Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmas in Nagaland - Kahor Raleng, HoD, English Department


The month of December took off with a combination of activities and incidents in Nagaland this year - the Hornbill festival, night bazaars coupled with the effects of demonitization, the PDS scam and ACAUT, and more. Now with just a few days left for Christmas, here’s a reminder of what December is all about for Christians around the world. This week’s writer takes us back to her sweet reminisce of Christmas day and also reflects more on the spirit of Christmas in Nagaland.

Christmas in Nagaland

It has taken me a tremendously long time to come up with this article. One specific reason for that is maybe because I don’t have any good things to write for Christmas. Now I associate Christmas with the onset of the Hornbill Festival, traffic jams, dust, endless night bazaars, noise, the rush of bodies jostling around in the markets, drunkards, rash drunk driving, parties, accidents, a reminder of growing older with another year gone by and to further add to the list this year, the demonetization drama. The magic of Christmas seems to have disappeared. It feels like Christmas is just another festival in our calendar and not the most important day for a Christian.
It was a different scenario when I was a little girl. Christmas was the time of merriment and fun; but in that entire hullabaloo, the importance of Jesus’ birth was never forgotten or overshadowed. Prayer and worship were the most essential part of any gathering. I remember my siblings and I staying up on every 24th and 31st Dec and as soon as the clock struck 12 we will wake up Dad and Mom so that Dad can say the prayer for the family. That moment was the most important part of the whole festive season. After that, we all snuggled up in our beds and slept with hope in our hearts for a wonderful year ahead. The assurance of God’s presence in our life was always renewed with prayer. We attended church services, visited family and friends and invited them for dinner. And in any of our gatherings, some amount of singing hymns and worship was ever present.
The word Christmas means Christ’s Mass, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Old Testament prophets like Isaiah revealed many centuries before that Christ would be born with a unique purpose…a purpose unparalleled in human history. Christ was born unto us so that we will be saved from the consequence of sin. In the Gospel of Luke 2:11, it says “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The true purpose of Christ’s birth is to save us from sin, to give us eternal life. He brought with Him not only everlasting life but also peace, love and hope. Christ is God’s precious gift to humankind, the ultimate sacrifice. God gave us His only Son as a gift. This fact calls us to be grateful and show our gratefulness in return. This Christmas season presents before us an opportunity to give and share a smile, a little kindness, love, hope, joy, and peace to make a difference, in our lives and in the lives of others.  
How many of us realise the true essence of Christmas? Today, Christmas as a whole has been commercialised and romanticised. Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, the carols have all been commercialised. It has become more of a competition where you show off your wealth, showcase your creativity and it appears like we compete how to best show how materialistic the whole Christmas season is about. Some individuals or organisations seem to be in a rush to cash in on the season and make some profit out of it.  Young people today associate Christmas with parties and outings and are reluctant to spend time in the church for worship. The true spirit of Christmas is lost and the essence of Christmas is fading gradually. Either people are too rich that they take pleasure in showing off their wealth or they are too poor to afford one square meal and Christmas is just a shadow. There seems to be desolation everywhere along with the cold winter.
This Christmas also seems to be overshadowed by the demonetization brought upon by the Modi Government, the rampant corruption exposed by the ACAUT, the constant wars in Syria, Iran and the disturbances in Kashmir. Surrounded by all these happenings it is hard to visualise a Merry Christmas with all its merriments and good tidings. The environment was similar in the first century C.E. when Christ was born. But His birth brought transformation in the lives of those who accepted Him and His gospel. There were also who rejected His love. But even today the same transformation can be experienced by all those who accept Him. It is a matter of our choice, and the choices we make today make us.
Christmas is a time to rejoice and be glad. It’s a time to share, a time to give back hope to the lost and lonely, a time to bring back God in our lives. What are your plans this Christmas? Are you planning to do something different?  What can we do this Christmas to make it meaningful? Let us contemplate on these questions. And if you are surprised to realise that you are in a far better place than so many people around you, be grateful. But remember gratefulness does not only end in being grateful but in the act of being grateful. Reach out to the downtrodden this Christmas; help the needy and the lost. Go out of your way in helping others by sacrificing your time, money and your pleasures and you will see how satisfying that will be. Let us ask ourselves this question “Is there something I can do to give back hope to this horizon?” like the band Gothard sang in their song Merry Christmas.
Let us recapture the magic of Christmas and in all our Good Samaritan works let us not forget God, which we tend to do quite so often. God should be the focus and the purpose of all that we do. Wishing you all a blessed Christmas!

Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognized Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

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