A Multi-Cultural Christmas Party: Roopali Sircar Gaur

Roopali Sircar Gaur
The festive season always begins with the joyous tradition of setting up the Christmas tree. At The Hermitage in Meerut, we uphold a special practise – no tree or branch is cut; they are carefully grown in pots for use during the festive month of December.

In the recent week leading up to Christmas, our home buzzed with the creative energy of Mannan Ali, Hannan Ali, and Ifza – a trio of imaginative siblings whose passion for decorating the tree is truly captivating. Their focused efforts set the stage for a magical Christmas atmosphere.

Adding to the festive spirit was the enthusiastic tree lighting organized by Sonu, a Sikh boy, showcasing the beauty of unity in diversity. In an increasingly divisive world, such moments become beacons of hope, and it's heartening to witness our children embracing the season with such fervour.

Christmas at our home is always a blend of fun and frolic, with our children freely inviting their friends to join the celebrations. One such special guest is Jingle Baba! Guddu, a 7-year-old Hindu boy who eagerly persuades his mum every Christmas to get him a Santa outfit. With a bell in hand, he goes door to door, distributing sweets to other children, spreading infectious joy and enthusiasm.

The atmosphere inside The Hermitage becomes electric with music, dance, and art, captivating the young ones and igniting their spirits with excitement. Our recent celebration on Christmas Day 2023 was no exception. Our heritage home, nestled in the cantonment, has seen four generations serve in the armed forces, adding a unique historical touch to the festivities. Meerut, with its rich history and numerous churches in the cantonment where the British once lived, provided a picturesque backdrop for our celebration.

On this special day, nearly 50 children from various faiths gathered at The Hermitage dressed in their Sunday best. It was a heartwarming sight to see these young minds, aged 2 to 16, excitedly introducing themselves and forming bonds that transcended cultural and religious differences. 

The focal point of unity was our resplendent Christmas tree, which stood tall and proud, symbolizing the inclusivity that the season brings. I took the opportunity to share the story of baby Jesus and the three kings who followed the guiding star, and the children listened with rapt attention.

The day continued with Christmas music and dance taking center stage, creating an atmosphere of joy and celebration. A festive spread of cake, orange juice, hard boiled eggs, cookies, vegetable puffs, and take-home packets of Maggi Noodles added to the excitement. It was a very happy Christmas for all of us, and in a small way, we fulfilled the spirit of Christmas.

Children bring joy into our lives. Their eagerness, simplicity, their inclusive friendships, and their love for music, dance, art, sports, and other fun activities are abundant. All we need is to invite their exuberance into our lives through small acts that involve their participation. I started Mera Kitab Ghar: The Backyard Book Club in 2014 to organise book reading and festivities which grew out of children’s need for story books. All books are donated by children for children. Authors who publish children’s books also send a few copies for their reading pleasure. All occasions merit artwork, poetry recitation, and book reading. Leftover stationery, school bags, sparingly used shoes and clothes are stored and distributed for use. But most of all, they love story books.

As we bid farewell to another festive season, carrying with us the warmth and joy that the laughter of children brings, let us embrace the coming year with open hearts and hopeful spirits. May the New Year unfold a tapestry of blessings, love, and shared moments of happiness for all, transcending boundaries and fostering a sense of unity that lasts throughout the seasons. Wishing everyone a joyous and prosperous New Year!

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