“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel ! Born is the King of Israel !”
The Israel – Palestine War which is a source of concern for the whole world presently, because of the massive bloodshed there, brings to my mind this Carol that is rehearsed and sung on every Christmas, in all the Churches around the World!
(A) Though born and raised as a Hindu, my connection with Christianity is very old – in fact, ever since I can remember, as my parents were staying, from the time that my mother was expecting me, just opposite a Roman Catholic Church- The Rosary Church. Therefore, from the time I gained my senses, the month of Christmas brought joy and brightness in the atmosphere, as much as Diwali to me. For every night in the month of December, every year, in which month incidentally, my birthday also falls, I had the pleasure of going to sleep, hearing the sweet carols to the sound of the piano and the guitar, besides other musical instruments, right upto the Christmas Day, that is, the Day of Birth of Jesus Christ, viz. 25th December, and for one week thereafter till the New Year Day!
Came the time to admit me to school, and I was enrolled into the Convent of Jesus and Mary School attached to the same church, which enabled me to attend all the entertainment programs and films organised by the church, and seeing the beautiful tableaux set up in the Church, of the Sheep shed with Mother Mary holding the Divine infant Jesus in her arms, and Father Joseph looking lovingly upon the two, as also the morning star which guided the three Wise Men from the East, shining over all of them.
After school graduation, I went for my MBBS studies to Christian Medical College, Vellore, in Tamil Nadu. The College, called CMC in short, is an American (Protestant) Mission College and Hospital(CMCH) founded specially for the service of Indian Women, many of whom used to die in delivery for want of lady doctors, and their hesitation in calling or going to male doctors, due to their traditional background, by the reputed missionary Dr. Ida S. Scudder!
It was a residential college, with many of the College staff staying in the college campus. There, Christmas time was even more fun. All the student girls and boys from the Hostels, regardless of religion, used to wake up one another before Dawn, and go from door to door of the Staff Quarters, with candles, and singing carols, waking everyone up by the first rays of the Morning Sun. This was followed by a delicious feast of cake and other sweets for breakfast, to which any one of the Professors would treat us, and a sumptuous lunch thereafter in our respective hostels.
In the evenings, we attended the College Chapel, and listened to Sermons.
Thus, the Christian religion has come to acquire a place of importance for me, as a second religion next to Hinduism.
After returning home from the College on finishing studies, and having had to change my residence after marriage however, I began to miss the Christmas celebrations that I had become ‘addicted to’ through my childhood and student years.
(B) I therefore wondered if there was any way in which the people of all the religions can be persuaded to view X’ Mas as a festival that holds relevance to the followers of all the religions in India, and in other parts of the World, which can be celebrated by all WITHOUT having to change one’s faith.
An excellent example and precedent for this is, the Harvest festival ‘ONAM’ of Kerala, observed in Honour of the Puranic King Mahabali, in the period between August and September, that is, the Sanskrit month Bhadrapad, which is celebrated with equal enthusiasm and gaiety by all Malyalees irrespective of their faith, though it is originally a Hindu festival.
On the personal level, Some Muslims in Gujarat and Maharashtra also join the Ganesh Chaturthi festival,and even install the Ganpati idol at home, as in Salman Khan’s house! However this individual worship of deities of other faiths is limited to very few households.
The Rationale and Justification for making Christmas or Natale – नाताल, (meaning ‘Birth’), too, a Pan- religious festival for Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Parsis, in the interest of UNIVERSAL INTEGRATION can be verified from the belowmentioned facts:-
(1) The Gospel according to St. Matthew: Chapter 2: of the Holy Bible:hen Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the King, behold, there came three wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying,ere is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east,and are come to worship him.Then they had met the King, ( who asked them to find and inform him about the whereabouts of the new born, as he wanted to worship him, though really, he wished to slay it), they departed; and Lo, the star which they saw in the East,went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child’ Immanuel’, as Jesus was named at birth, with Mary, his mother, and fell down and worshipped him: and they presented unto him gifts; gold,frank- incense,and myrrh. Thereafter, having been warned by God in a dream that they should not return to Herod who wanted to kill the child Jesus), they departed into their own country by another way.”It is said that the three wise men were the priest kings of the Magi (said to be Sun Worshippers, versed in magic and knowledge of the stars), of whom one was from India, one from Persia (Iran), and the third one was from China. They were the priests of the Scythians, known as ‘Magi’, who were the ancestors of many Hindu Indian, Persian and Chinese clans.These men went all the way to Bethlehem to see and worship, and offer gifts to the infant Jesus, that is good reason for all Indians, includingndus to celebrate Christmas, in the Honour of Christ ! That some Hindu texts mention that the date of birth, I.e. December 25 and life of Jesus bears remarkable similarity with that of ‘Mitra’,an aspect of the Sun-God, also worshipped as ‘Mithras’ by the ancient Romans/Persians, viz. the Magi, is another basis for Hindus and those Persians/Iranians who still follow the ‘Cult of Mithras’, to revere Him . In fact, that may be the reason why the three wise men of the Magi went for getting a glimpse of the child Jesus, whom they might have considered as an Incarnation of ‘Mithras’!
(2) The Jews and Muslims do not regard or worship Jesus Christ ase Son of God or their Saviour, as they believe that the real Messiah isill to come, but they do regard him as a prophet like Moses or ‘Musalman Paigambar’. If they can celebrate the birth of the other prophets, like The Feast of the Birth Anniversary of John the Baptist, by Jews alongwith Christians on June 24, which matches with the Summer Solistice, or of Mohammed Paigambar, then why not the Birth of ‘Isa Paigambar’, as Jesus is called by Islam, if only as a prophet?is heard that Muslims of Indonesia worship Sri Rama, but as ‘Ancestor worship’. Accordingly, every community can celebrate Christmas, in keeping with each one’s own view of Jesus.
Non-Christians need not celebrate days like ‘Easter’, which are specifically linked to the Christian belief of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but why not Christmas, His Birth Anniversary ?
(3) Another significant point is that the year of birth of Jesus Christ has been accepted universally as The Line of Division of TIME into the two broad divisions – of the period Before Christ(BC) and that After God (Christ), I.e.’Apres Dieu’ (AD).w, some scholars say that Jesus was born 4/6 years before the date reckoned so far, viz. 4/6 BC, but that hardly matters now.e birthdate of Jesus is also supposed to coincide with the Winter Solistice.
Hence, there is every reason to raise Christmas, hitherto the festivalChristians alone, to the level of an International, Inter-religious occasion of celebration, for Universal integration of Humanity in the Spirit of Christ! And if singing to the glory of Jesus as the King of Israel, or ‘King of Angels’ is not acceptable to all Non-Christians (though the present War-like conditions in the whole strip of Israel, Gaza,Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere in the Modern World, do make one wish He would make His ‘promised Second appearance’ soon), they can sing some other song, like the following Popular one :-
“Christmas Time is near, Christmas Time is near ; Merry Christmas Everyone, Christmas Time is Here. Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All The Way; Santa Claus is coming to Town, Smiling All The Way!” } (2 times)