Christmas in India
Christians make up just over two percent of the population in India. Nevertheless, Christmas is a national holiday and many Indians who are not Christian still observe some of its folk customs. These include the lighting of many oil lamps along the perimeter of one’s courtyard or the edge of one’s roof. Indian Christians borrowed these lamp-lighting customs from a Hindu holiday known as Dewali. The task of filling and lighting the lamps often falls to children. Some families also paint Christmas symbols and images on the walls of their whitewashed homes with powdered dyes. These pictures may include the Star of Bethlehem, the Magi, or shepherds. The cooking and sharing of special foods is another widespread Christmas custom, although the dishes may vary from place to place. Gift giving and carol singing also take place in many Indian communities at Christmas time (see also Christmas Carol).