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‘We Are Afraid of Christmas’: Tensions Dampen Holiday in India

Surabhi Sukriti, 37, from Mumbai, said Christmas was so widely celebrated in her housing complex that visitors were shocked to learn how few Christians actually lived there. She and her family celebrate the holiday by baking pastries and recruiting Ms. Sukriti’s brother to dress up as Santa Claus to deliver presents to her 8-year-old son.

At Ms. Yadav’s home, Reyhaan, 13, her son, has submitted his Christmas list (a typewriter and a camera), and earlier this month, Ms. Yadav started planning the food menu: a leg of ham, quiche and a cheese board. Other families said that they ate typical Indian sweets like gulab jamun, a ball of dough dipped in liquid sugar, on the holiday.

Ms. Yadav acknowledged that she came from a position of privilege. She lives in a cosmopolitan neighborhood where observing three religions in one household does not provoke the same ire that it might in some Indian villages.

But she noted that the same gusto for celebrating Christmas did not necessarily extend to other holidays in her social circle.

“If you were to ask me how many of my Hindu friends even want to celebrate Eid, it would probably be zero,” she said, referring to Eid al-Adha, a major Muslim religious observance.

Minhazz Majumdar, 48, Ms. Yadav’s sister, said the growing emphasis on identity politics in India meant religion, caste and holiday celebrations were becoming increasingly used to polarize communities.

“The India we grew up in was definitely more inclusive,” she said. “It has not descended into madness totally, because there are still people who are trying to show the universality of our cultural experiences, but it’s like a pot that is on the boil.”

Source: NYT > World

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