24 December 2005

Christmas in India?

You better believe it. In India, the nations 25 million Christians, mostly Catholic, joyously celebrate the Christmas holiday each year. Unbelievable, the world's largest retailer won't use the word "Christmas" in any advertising, but many Indians proudly proclaim the mystery of faith in public. The India Times reports.
NEW DELHI: Christianity came to India much before it went to the West, perhaps a reason why India's 25 million Christians prefer to be catholic in faith, oriental in worship and Indian in culture.
Funny. Many Americans consider India to be a "third-world" country. One where ancient laws govern the masses. However, India's "freedom of religion" is positively refreshing when placed next to the west's "freedom from religion."
It has been a two-way process - a process of osmosis where Christianity has over the centuries become an indelible part of Indian plurality. Not only for the urban middle classes enthusiastically getting ready for Christmas, a festival that long ago surpassed the boundaries of mere religion, but also for the many millions who have studied in missionary schools.

On the flip side, many customs of the majority Hindu religion have assimilated into Christian traditions, making for a uniquely Indian Christianity in a country where the community forms the second largest minority group after the Muslims and constitutes 2.4 percent of its one billion plus population.

According to a 2003 report of Directory of Catholic Health Facilities in India, the Catholic church itself has 764 hospitals, 2,975 dispensaries and health centres and 115 medical training centers throughout the country.
A country that allows all religions an equal voice is a good one -- in my humble opinion.

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