In gloomy nation, church advises low key Christmas

December 20th, 2008 - 12:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) Twelve-year-old Sonu wore the Santa mask and hopped from one car window to another at the traffic signal, trying to spread some Christmas cheer and cajoling people into buying his wares. But he found the mood unusually glum.”I get my masks and caps from Sadar Bazar (wholesale market in central Delhi) and sell them at the traffic signals near Moti Bagh. Although it’s usually not difficult to sell them around this time of the year, especially to children and women, the sales this time have not caught up,” Sonu told IANS.

“But it’s just the first week since we have started selling these masks and I am sure people will start buying more,” he added hopefully.

Sonu’s predicament is simply an indication of the general dip in the celebratory mood despite Christmas being just a week away, and the New Year’s eve following close by.

With memories of the Mumbai terror attacks still fresh, those 60 hours of resounding gun shots, chilling fear, helpless cries and heroic sacrifices still on the mind, most people of the Christian community and others say they are in muted mood.

While over 170 lives were lost in the attacks, many more were left injured in the terror assault which began on the night of Nov 26.

Madhu Chandra, member of the All India Christian Council, said: “The day after Christmas, on Dec 26, it will be a month after the Mumbai terror attacks - an event which shook the entire nation. So many innocent lives were lost… keeping that in mind I don’t think people are in the mood to celebrate.

“We want to mourn for the Mumbai victims with the rest of the country. Also, the attacks on the Christian community in Kandhamal in Orissa this August and now the call for a bandh on Christmas have set off a feeling of fear of Fascist forces in the community,” Chandra told IANS.

Dominic Emmanuel, priest at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in the heart of the capital, went on to say that the church has in fact asked the people to go for Christmas celebrations sans the fanfare this time.

“The Christmas cheer is definitely toned down. It’s sad that so many people lost their lives for a mindless cause. Just like the Muslim community came together to observe a sober Eid, wearing black bands to protest terrorism, the church has advised people to go for a less grand Christmas celebration,” Emmanuel told IANS.

In tandem with the general mood, hotels have been facing cancellations in party bookings.

For instance, Ritu Bararia, director of public relations at the Park Hotel, said: “Both the global meltdown and the Mumbai terror attacks have affected our business. People’s spending power has reduced by as much as 40 percent.”

Desperately trying to woo back the crowds, some hotels like Claridges are offering a 10 percent discount on their various celebration packages.

But there are still some, like Joe Joseph, an advertising executive, who said that he would go ahead with the Christmas celebration because that is exactly what people need at this moment of gloom.

“The general Christmas cheer is missing, but I am going ahead with my Christmas party. It will be a small get-together of close friends and family, and I really feel that we need the spirit of the festival - that of hope and faith - to clear the cloud of gloom,” Joseph said.

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