Let Heaven And Earth Rejoice

Let Heaven And Earth Rejoice

It is Christmas time once again. It is the season of rejoicing; of giving and receiving; of raising our hands in Thanksgiving. Christmas no longer belongs merely to the Christians. It is more of a universal celebration. The festivities of Christmas have seeped into the ethos of all nations. As I write this, I am inhaling deep, the festive spirit pervading the streets of a misty morning Bangkok, whose 92% population, of over 6 million, is Buddhist and a mere 1% Christians. Yet, there are fairy tinsel lights, white Christmas trees (a few coloured ones too, but none green) and breathtaking decorations in and outside the malls. The petite Thai waitresses, even in small eating joints, have donned red pixie caps and the warm air of the city reverberates with the sounds of laughter and joy. The peak tourist season adds to the gaiety, with honeymooning couples strewn all over the place.

Santa Claus, or Father Christmas (can’t we have Mother Christmas? was the innocent remark of my friend’s 5 year old son) has long overpowered the infant Jesus Christ. We now have even the ‘Best Santa’ contests, with Jimmy Chan of Hong Kong being voted this year’s top Santa Claus of the world. The corporate world has added its own embellishments by way of greeting cards, expensive gifts, Christmas Eve Balls, special Christmas dinners, etal. I wonder, if the proverbial stockings are still hung in homes (we did that in our very Hindu home), as the modern day gifts would rarely fit into them. So it is more of a display of wealth and an excuse to splurge in the ever expanding shopping malls. The humble manger, with the infant Jesus swathed in rags, is almost forgotten. Yet, there have been some well meaning improvisations. The Green Santa Claus from Japan, who instead of doling out gifts, talks about preserving the environment to have peaceful and beautiful Christmas times in future.

The birth of Christ is an event which teaches humanity the lessons of austerity and humility. It teaches us to respect the poorest of the poor and to accept the graces, as well as tribulations of life with equanimity. Let Christmas not be reduced to a fashionable and commercial venture. Let us not forget the real meaning of Christmas, which is of forgiveness and humility. Let the massed ringing of cash registers in shopping malls not drown the jingling of the reindeer’s bells, bringing joy to the uncluttered hearts of children.

Yet, this time of the Yuletide season, always reaffirms my faith in the goodness of humankind. It really seems that God is in her place in heaven and all is right with the world. So be it. May peace and goodwill always prevail on earth.

A Merry Christmas and A Very Happy New Year to all of you, from Citizen News Service.

Shobha Shukla

(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS), has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP, and teaches Physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. Email: shobha@citizen-news.org, website: www.citizen-news.org)

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Citizen News Service (CNS), India/Thailand
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