Christmas in India and Malaysia: A Unique fusion of traditions and global spirit

Letter to Editor

I AM an Indian national residing in New Delhi who came to Malaysia in early December with my mother for my sister-in-law’s wedding in Klang.

I have had the unique opportunity in the last few weeks to observe as well as feel Malaysia’s much-hyped colourful diversity and tourism promoting tagline – Malaysia Truly Asia!

I was very much impressed by some of the similarities between India and Malaysia especially in the celebration of Christmas and year-end festivities where people of all faiths come together.

Christmas holds immense significance globally, fostering a spirit of joy, generosity and togetherness. In India, a country known for its rich cultural diversity, Christmas celebration has evolved into a unique fusion of traditions that beautifully blends local customs with the global essence of the festival.

In India, Christmas is celebrated by a vibrant and growing Christian community as well as by people of various faiths who partake in the festive spirit. The festivities typically commence with the decoration of homes, churches and public spaces, thus creating a festive ambiance. Midnight mass on Christmas eve is a significant part of the celebrations.

One distinctive aspect of Christmas in India is the fusion of traditional Indian flavours with Western customs. Families often prepare a variety of delicious Indian dishes alongside classic Christmas treats, reflecting the cultural amalgamation that defines the country and its diversity.

Christians lighting candles at the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Christmas eve in New Delhi (Pic credit: IANS)

Over the years, the celebration of Christmas in India has seen a shift towards a more inclusive and secular observance. Cities and towns light up with decorations and people exchange gifts as a symbol of love and harmony. The commercial aspect of Christmas has also grown with shopping for decorations and presents becoming a widespread practice.

Despite the shared festive spirit, Christmas in India differs from celebrations in Western countries. The absence of wintry landscapes in many parts of India means that snowmen and traditional Christmas scenes are replaced with more tropical and creative decorations.

Additionally, the diversity of languages and traditions in India results in a spectrum of unique regional customs intertwined with global Christmas spirit.

Contrasting with Christmas in Malaysia which presents a seamless integration of global Christmas traditions, the festival has undergone evolution, embracing inclusivity and diversity.

The universal essence of joy and togetherness persists, yet my unique experience in Malaysia renders Christmas celebrations in the country exceptionally vibrant and culturally rich.

Despite being a Muslim-majority nation, Malaysia embraces the Christian festival as its own, and witnessing the increasing number of celebrants is truly remarkable.

The malls and public spaces are adorned with captivating decorations, highlighting various aspects and attracting people to the festive spirit.

I was also informed of Malaysia’s unique ‘Christmas open house’ sponsored by the government annually to bring the people together to further emphasise its unity in diversity. – Dec 25, 2023


Simy Mariam George

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Main pic credit: Reuters

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