Cohesive Lucknow Yuletide spirit shrinking religious barriers

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Christmas adds to the joyous winter mood in all its hues and one of the aspects that makes the festival special is the decorations at home, especially the Christmas tree. A symbol of Jesus and fire, the Christmas tree is now a regular feature in homes across all communities  

Lucknow is known for its Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb. In a city where people of different faiths live and thrive together, Christmas over the years has emerged as that opportune moment when the revelry pushes the envelope further on the communal amity front. Not only Christians, but people of all religious denominations have been celebrating the birth of Christ the saviour in their own unique way each year, foremost of them being setting up a Christmas tree at home. Most believe that celebrating the day gives them a deeper understanding of the other faith and also helps one inculcate the need to respect other religions and imbibe the best practices that help a community and individual grow.

As someone who thought way beyond his times and opened the first of the city’s premier gift stores and specialized in festival related decoration items, the LaBella Store owner Lakkhan has for the past 20 years not just got the Christmas cake at home, but has also continued to have a Christmas tree beautifully decorated at home adding to the festive cheer.    

Lakkhan says, “It’s been 20 years since I have been celebrating the Christmas festival with pomp and fair at home. The festivities at home are as old as my son who just turned 20 this year. Usually people in this festival either gift Christmas trees to the community or give it to the family for decorative purposes. Christmas brings a unique combination of the winter chill and the yuletide spirit. Each year we make the cake ourselves at home to celebrate well. Today both wholesale and retail stores have Christmas trees and this gives the festivities a much needed boost. Christmas marks a unique amalgamation of gifts, accessories and novelties. In modern day and age, the festivals of India have transcended beyond religion specific niches. It is now for all to cherish.”

A mother to very loving kids, Rashika Mehrotra is not behind when it comes to ushering in the yuletide spirit. Rashika says, “my kids simply love decorating & lightning up their tree .. The main reason we celebrate festivals is because the majority of them are more or less religiously centered and thus we come to honor our religions. But festivals also give a sense of enjoyment, relaxation and offer the time needed to bond with family members whom we can’t meet often coz of daily hectic life .. and I feel that my child should learn and know that to celebrate any festival you need not to convert yourself or it’s just that you need to know about it and Respect about it and every other religion and yes knowing the story behind it too adds to their broader wisdom,”

For Sanjay Arora, a member of a reputed Lucknow family, Christmas is time for feeling a sense of calm with a nicely decorated Christmas tree at home. Sanjay says, “A Christmas tree is not just about a luxury, a lovely feeling, it is also cool, it gives me a sense of calm. Have been ushering in Christmas with a Christmas tree at home since childhood. Not just the customary cake but the tree has been part of the annual Christmas festivities at home. It is always nice to break the usual daily monotony and celebrate and enjoy on the occasion of Christmas. Over the years new innovations in the Christmas tree has been visible. Varieties like the snow tree, pine tree, light trees and fur trees have only given the revellers an options galore.

Faheem Siddique, of Hamleys a store catering to the modern Christmas festive demands along with toys says, “Usually people take home Christmas trees that are easily accommodated in the corner of the room or even miniature ones that are placed at the table. People from all age – groups and walks of life are eager to usher in the Christmas spirit with a decorated home, carols playing in the background and the customary fanfair. It is a good feeling this part of the year.”

As a media academician and photojournalist pursuing Ph. D, Neelu Sharma has had a strong inclination towards all things Christmas. She says, “We are usually very upbeat about Christmas. The Christmas tree has been a regular feature at our home which adds to the Christmas feel this season. Though a slightly mellowed down festival this time for us, the tree adds to the festivities and surely takes us back to our carefree childhood days.”

Apart from the traditional olden day vendors who would have specially curated Christmas trees in the city, there is a mushrooming of sorts of the newer outlets that cater to the demands of the modern reveller namely Ferns & Petals, Hamley’s, Cheap House, Kishan Nursery among others. Between Rs 100 and Rs 1,500, trees of different shapes, sizes, colours and material are selling like hotcakes in the market which gives a new meaning to the Christmas season. From miniatures that can be kept in almirahs and table tops to the 9 ft tall Christmas trees for the drawing room, the reveller can take a pick in the city’s markets.

Traditionally, the Christmas tree is a symbol of the Christian spirit. An evergreen tree, the Christmas tree continues to stand tall throughout the year in homes. It signifies the bright fire and shows the existence of Lord Jesus.

A practice of exorcism that started in European nations now has been reason for homes in India to have this tree so that evil spirits are kept at bay. The tradition of decorating the Christmas tree is considered to have originated in Germany. From the 19th century this tradition reached England, from where it spread throughout the world. In America it was started by immigrants from Germany. Christian mythology goes to show, the Christmas tree was planted first in the Garden of Eden. When Christ was born an evergreen fur was illuminated with stars by people who greeted his parents Mary and Joseph, including the angels. Ever since, the evergreen Christmas fur tree is recognized as the Christmas tree.

It is believed that decorating the Christmas tree turns bad luck into good one. The Christmas tree removes not one or two but seven whole architectural defects from your house.  The triangle shaped Christmas tree is a symbol of fire and is capable of giving life to everything on earth. It is believed that planting Christmas tree in the house removes all kinds of stress from life.

Known for its Unity in Diversity there is unanimity in voices from Lucknow who say that cohesion between different faiths by a fine thread of harmony is what makes the Lucknow experience a class apart in the modern day and age. 

First published in Lucknow’s only weekly in English/Hindi – The Lucknow Tribune

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