ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Sumon Francis Gomes
Traditional sweets, homes decorated with Christmas poems, and
house-to-house Christmas carolling in the week preceding Christmas are part of
the activities Bangladeshi Christians engage in preparation for the coming of
Jesus. Celebrations are held with majority Muslims and Christmas day is a
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – As bamboo stars hang from rooftops and
banana trees are decorated like Christmas trees, preparations for this holiest
of days get in full swing in Bangladesh. Even in this predominantly Muslim
country, Christmas is in fact a statutory holiday. In the villages, everyone is
involved in preparing for Borodin (Christmas). Some bake traditional cakes and
decorate churches and homes; others rehearse carols, for everything must be
ready for Christmas Eve, when families go to church for confession before they
can welcome the Baby Jesus in their homes.
“For Borodin (Christmas), we
prepare various kinds of pitha-pulis (a local cake made with rice flour). For
us, it is a special day in our lives, which we wait eagerly throughout the
year,” said Suchitra Rozario, a homemaker in Mothbari Parsih,
During Advent, Bangladesh’s Christians embellish their homes
with local handmade decorations. They prepare small small goshala (mangers) and
hang stars made of bamboo and colour paper to the rooftops to represent the
stars of Bethlehem.
Villagers also paint their homes, sing different
design, writing short verses they composed on the pira (lower outside basement
of village mud house).
In early December, boys and girls rehearse,
getting ready to go house to house to sing Christmas carols in the week that
precede 25 December.
“This year we will cut banana trees to replant them
in pairs in front of the village’s main entrance. The leaves of the trees are
bent to form an arch”, said Dipu Rodrigues, a young boy from Nagori Parish,
Gazipur. “We have a plan to replant a banana tree in the middle of the yard like
other years as a symbol of the Christmas Tree.”
Whether in the cities or
the villages, Christmas is celebrated in many different ways.
Gomes, a parishioner in the Holy Cross Church, Luxmibzar, Dhaka, supervises the
decoration of the church by parish children.
“Christmas celebration in
the city is a bit different from the villages. We sing carols during the week
before Christmas. Many of us will leave town on Christmas day to join relatives
at the village home,” he added.
“The Christmas Eucharist in St Mary’s
Cathedral in Dhaka will be broadcast live by most local television channels,”
said Fr Joyanto Gomes, director of Christian Communications Centre. “Both radio
and TV also plan special programming for the holiday weekend, a unique
occurrence in a Muslim nation.”
SOURCE : ASIANEWS