Muted Christmas follows violence in India

By staff writers
December 29, 2008

Christians in India have been relatively muted in their celebration of Christmas this year, following violence in Orissa and Karnataka, and the tragic Mumbai attacks.

The global economic crisis affecting the country has also had an impact, with the festive atmosphere missing and streets absent of shoppers, according to the Christian Today news website.

More people stayed at home with fewer turning out for Christmas services and celebrations.

Archbishop of Bangalore Bernard Moras declared: "The recent terror attacks in Mumbai and the attacks on churches in Karnataka no doubt created a sense of despair, but our faith makes us believe that God will vindicate all and restore peace. The Christmas message is one of hope. So we always hope for good things."

Madhu Chandra, a member of the All India Christian Council, added: "The day after Christmas, 26 December [the Feast of St Stephen], it will be a month after the Mumbai terror attacks, an event which shook the entire nation."

He continued: "So many innocent lives were lost ... I don’t think people are in the mood to celebrate."

He told the IANS news service: "We want to mourn for the Mumbai victims with the rest of the country. Also, the attacks on the Christian community in Kandhamal [and] in Orissa this August."

In Orissa, thousands in relief camps joined prayers and church services, still haunted by the knowledge that their homes and properties have been destroyed in violence triggered by the murder of a local radical Hindu leader.

The Archbishop of Cuttack-bhubaneshwar, Raphael Cheenath, had earlier advised churches and Christians in remote areas in Kandhamal against holding Midnight Mass or prayer services. He, along with the Catholic Bishops Council of India (CBCI), urged Christians to celebrate a low-profile Christmas.

Keywords:mumbai | india | christmas
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