Prayers, carnival, charity together mark Christmas in North Bengal districts

Report by: 
SOUMYA DE SARKAR ANUP JAYSAWAL BABUL SARKAR
MALDA/RAIGANJ/ALIPURDUAR
25 Dec 2017

When the debate over intolerance in the name of religion is prevalent across the country, residents of North Bengal celebrated Christmas in all its hues paying no heed to any orthodox propaganda made by disruptive forces. With people’s participation the grand religious occasion in Christianity was elevated to the level of a festival of mass. In addition to grand celebrations with cake, ale, chocolates, lights and wines people were seen to warm up to their underprivileged co-citizens by providing them with woolen clothes and blankets.
As the clock struck 12 midnight, citizens belonging to different religions gathered at churches to witness the religious rites and ceremonious celebrations to commemorate the holy emergence of Jesus Christ.
Cake shops were open till late night to cater to large demands of the buyers. Along with cakes of different size and price replicas of Santa Claus, Christmas trees, gift items were sold in high volumes.
Pubs remained packed too. Long queues in front of liquor shops caught the attention on Christmas Eve.
In Malda citizens got on the streets in English Bazaar to enjoy the maiden Malda carnival which was kicked off on Sunday evening. People of all ages especially kids and teenagers were seen relishing the carnival with all its grandeur. Nihar Ghosh, chairman of English Bazaar municipality and MLA said that the civic body organized the carnival pursuing a suggestion from chief minister Mamata Banerjee and with support from urban development and municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim. “We are overwhelmed with the enormous response from the people. It is the festival of the people, for the people and by the people,” Ghosh said.
In Raiganj Congress MLA and former chairman of civic body Mohit Sengupta rushed from one point to another to distribute blankets among the people living on pavements. “They cannot afford a blanket and hence suffer helplessly in winter. It is our responsibility to provide them the warmth,” Sengupta said. He claimed that it was a humanitarian initiative sans any political motive. He said that it seemed to him to be the best way to celebrate birthday of Christ, an apostle of humanity and divinity.
Shyamaprasad Dutta Roy, a cart-puller and social worker with his little resources stood by the labourers working in different tea-gardens of Alipurduar district on occasion of Christmas. Saving penny by penny from his meager daily earning and help from his patrons Dutta Roy accumulated an amount to buy woolen clothes and blankets for 1100 people including kids working in tea-gardens. “Swami Vivekananda said that service to mankind is service to God. The holy Bible says, love thy neighbour. So, I felt the necessity to serve my co-citizens with my minimum resources. It provides me celestial pleasure. It is really a Bada Din for me,” he said.