Few countries celebrate religious and cultural festivals with greater passion, imagination and joy than India. And among the many festivals of this gloriously diverse, multicultural nation is Christmas—the night that Jesus came to earth, bringing with him the all-embracing ‘fragrance of Love’. The Christian communities of India celebrate the birth of Christ with food, music, lights, prayer, family gatherings, charity and other age-old traditions, some of which have evolved over almost two millennia. And for centuries, other communities have also participated in the celebration of this Indian festival—its cheer and spirit of love as resilient, even in times of division, as India itself.
This anthology captures the distinctive magic of Christmas in India. Edited and with introductions by two of India’s finest writers, Jerry Pinto and Madhulika Liddle, it is a splendid collection of essays, images, poems and hymns—both in English and translated from India’s other languages—which showcase the variety of Christmas celebrations across the country.
Damodar Mauzo, Vivek Menezes, Easterine Kire, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, Elizabeth Kuruvilla, Jane Borges and Mary Sushma Kindo, among others, write about Christmas traditions and celebrations in Goa, Nagaland, Kerala, Delhi, Ranchi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Shillong and rural Jharkhand. Arul Cellaturai writes tender poems in the Pillaitamil tradition to the moon about Baby Jesus, and Punjabi singers compose tappe-boliyan about Mary and her infant. There are Mughal miniatures depicting the birth of Jesus, and paintings by Jyoti Sahi and Sister Marie Claire inspired by folk art. And photographers from near and far capture images of Christmas time in Aizawl, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kochi.
Charming family traditions, ‘chutnified’ Christmas lunches and dinners, quintessentially Indian versions of Christmas decorations and rituals—all find a place in the pages of Indian Christmas, a first-of-its-kind collection that pays tribute to a great Indian festival. It is a unique and beautiful book to possess and to gift.
About the Author
Jerry Pinto is a writer and poet based in Mumbai. His books include Em and the Big Hoom (winner of the Hindu Prize, the Crossword Book Award), Murder in Mahim (shortlisted for the Crossword Award), The Education of Yuri (2022), Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb (winner of the National Award for the Best Book on Cinema). Jerry’s landmark translations from Marathi and Hindi include Baburao Bagul’s Jevha Mi Jaat Chorli Hoti (When I Hid My Caste) ; Sachin Kundalkar’s Cobalt Blue and the memoirs of Daya Pawar (Baluta). In 2016, Jerry received the Windham-Campbell Prize and the Sahitya Akademi Award.
Madhulika Liddle is a novelist and award-winning short story writer. She is best known as the author of the Muzaffar Jang series, about a 17th-century Mughal detective, though she also writes other fiction in various genres. She was the first Indian to win the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association’s Short Story Competition (2003). Her novel, Garden of Heaven (2021), is the first of four novels that will span 800 years of Delhi’s history.