Skip to main content

Christmas is sharing with poor, excluded, victims of 'unjust' CAA, NCR, NPR

Placard says, "This year Santa won't come to India, he doesn't have documents"
By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Christmas is a seven-point star. The seven-point star which guides, directs and protects! In Christianity, seven has from time immemorial been regarded as a perfect number. The seven-pointed star also represents the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and delight in the Lord. Very significantly the seven points of the Christmas Star all begin with the letter ‘S’; they are:
Christmas is a Song: the one of the angels! The words are unequivocal, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to all men and women of goodwill!” The song is inclusive. The lyrics, the melody can and needs to be sung by all and at all times. It transcends narrowness and pettiness; xenophobia and jingoism; divisiveness and discrimination!
The song needs to be lived and communicated to others, if we are serious about Christmas. Peace is a vibrant, dynamic one which has to be lived in the small and simple realities of our daily lives.
Christmas is Shepherds: Simple, unlettered, marginalized folk; their expertise was in tending sheep. Their life was difficult: with long nights spent in the open, biting cold. Their sheep were precious: each one had a name and they knew them by name; they smelt of the sheep. When one was lost they went in search of that one, until found.
When they were given the “good news” of the birth of the Saviour they leave their sheep behind (their attachments) and ran in haste to worship him, their priorities are very clear: they had to be the first witnesses to the herald of the angels! The shepherds are representatives of the poor and the marginalised, the exploited and the excluded of today.
Christmas is a Search: the ‘Anawim’ -- a broken people, waiting in patience and hope, searching for the Messiah; someone who would liberate them from their suffering, from the shackles of bondage. The relentless search of a people for truth, light and a new tomorrow! The search by Mary and Joseph for a place to stay the night, knocking on doors, only to be told that “there is no place in the inn”. The search by the Shepherds and the Magi for the Saviour. The search by refugees Joseph and Mary, for safety and security as they flee into Egypt!
Christmas is a Stable: A powerful image and reminder of the meaning of the birth of the Saviour; total simplicity and abject poverty; the smell of the animals, the squalour of the stable is the warm, welcoming home for the king of kings. It is a place far out of the city, in the peripheries, away from the comfort zones, the materiality, the wealth, the pomp and the neon lights!
The stable has no decorations, no tinsels or baubles; none of cosmetics or sham which we have made of Christmas today! Sadly the stable also reminds us of the ‘detention camps’ which have begun mushrooming in India today where those who are rendered stateless by draconian, discriminatory policies of today!
A students' protest in Mumbai on December 24
Christmas is Silence: “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright Round yon Virgin, Mother, Mother and Child, Holy infant so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace!" Ever since it was first composed and sung in a small town of Austria on Christmas night 1818, it is the all-time favorite carol.
It is reflective of the ‘profound silence’ that permeates the earth when Jesus is born! A silence pregnant with meaning: peace, joy and hope. Christmas today is relegated to ‘merriment’: from wishing others “merry” Christmas to noisy celebrations and crass commercialization! Rediscovering the silence of Christmas is essential today!
Christmas is Sharing: God our loving Father sharing himself with us by giving us his only begotten son. The shepherds bring for the child the best from the little they have. The little drummer boy plays his drum for the new-born king; the only thing he could bring as a gift.
The magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh; but, in order to save the child from the wrath of Herod, they would have advised Joseph to flee, gifting him with some of their camels to do so!
Christmas is sharing ourselves with the poor, the excluded, the victims of an unjust and inhuman society; those who are victims of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR); those who will not be able to pay us back or for that matter say “thank you” to us!
Christmas is the Saviour: The long point of the seven-pointed star. The centripetal and centrifugal force of the festival. There is no Christmas without the Saviour: we celebrate his birth on Christmas day; we celebrate the opportunity we have for eternal happiness.
Sadly, the Christmas season in some places is referred to as ‘Holiday Season’; what gains prominence is Santa Claus and the Christmas tree. The world relegates the essence of the day to materialism. We are caught up in this web: we need to put Christ our Saviour -- back into Christmas!
Yes, Christmas is a Seven-point Star: A song, the shepherds, the search, the stable, the silence, the sharing and the Saviour. A star which guides the magi, in their relentless pursuit of truth. These were men who studied the ancient manuscripts. They were no pushovers; they knew their stuff.
But sometimes their arrogance and self-confidence did them in and they lose sight of the star. In their helplessness they even go to Herod, who recognizes their worth; in his own cunning way, he tries to convince them to return to give him the news. The seven –point star is actually a lodestar that guides them to take a different path; to stand against the Herods of today; against the power of all evil!
As we enter Christmas let us hitch ourselves to this seven-point star, so that we can truly celebrate the beauty and significance of the day and live the essence of Christmas every day of our lives!
---
*Human rights and peace activist, prolific writer and poet. Contact: cedricprakash@ gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.