The low temperature even in the day and the freezing cold breeze during night show that Christmas is round the corner and going to be like the one in Western festival countries where there is frost and snowfall during this end-of-the-year.
Christian families that inhabit Lake City, are all set to celebrate Christmas in a big way which is clearly visible at the over a dozen churches spread all over the town. The churches wear a festive look as they had already been attractively decorated with myriads of multicoloured small electric bulbs, buntings and festoons. Floodlights at night illumine them and add to their attraction.
Preparation for this mega event to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ celebrated all over the world, start well in advance in Lake City. Christian houses are spruced up, painted and decorated in an attractive manner. Carol, the songs that are sung to express joy at the birth of Christ, begin to be sung in homes. From the second Sunday in December start
carol singing, a programme of singing songs about and in praise of Christ. Groups of singers visit different localities of the town where Christians reside. In addition to this, joint Christmas carol service is held in rotation at various churches.
Shepherd Memorial Church, near Chetak Circle, becomes the centre of attraction. The church is an example of catholicity of the rulers of Mewar. In 1889 Maharana Fateh Singh of Mewar donated the land for building of this church for worship. Mr. Campbell Thomson was the state engineer of Mewar at that time and under his guidance this beautiful church was built. Established in 1891, this was the first church in Mewar and is named after its founder Rev. James Shepherd who was a native of Aberdeen in Scotland. Coming to India in 1872, he gave his services as a doctor in Ajmer Hospital and later founded the Shepherd Mission Hospital in 1886 in the building which at present houses Govt. Dispensary, Dhan Mandi, in Udaipur. Led by Shepherd the first service took place on 5th July 1891. The church was honoured by Mewar State in 1901 for its services during the famine in 1899.
Another big festival that is celebrated with great enthusiasm is the
White Gifts Sunday which was first introduced by a Methodist Pastor way back in 1904 in Paineville, Ohio. Celebrated on the Sunday preceding Christmas, the festival gets its name from the fact that at this time of the year in eastern countries there is snow all round and the poor require warm clothing and other things. So it has become a tradition that people coming to church bring with them, items such as dresses, grocery, cosmetics, raw food etc. All these are wrapped in white and are distributed among needy persons and in charity homes and rural areas. On this occasion, people pray in the churches in the morning. They bring gifts that they can afford.
The message of Christmas is that every human is a child of God and we should live in harmony, a local organization named Sarva Dharma Maitri Sangh, Udaipur organizes a big peace rally before Christmas. The rally, through tableaus gives the messages such as world peace, environment, pollution, save the girl child and communal harmony. School students, members of social organizations, elected representatives, and members of churches participate in the event with great enthusiasm. At different central points of the town the rally is welcomed by leaders of various sects and religions. Contd..4
In all parts of the town the markets get crowded with people buying provision to cook special dishes for the festival such as doughnuts, ‘pakwan’ with sweet and salty taste, sweets and cakes. Some families prefer to get cakes from the market. Christmas greeting cards of various designs sizes and colours on sale at cardshops of markets like Bapu Bazar and Chetak Circle, are still favourite of some as they do not like so much to send messages on mobiles or e-mail greetings. There is no dearth of special toys available in the shops. Heaps of electronic toys for children are now on sale. Christmas trees sell like hot cakes and are bought well in advance as it takes times to hang on it gifts for every one in the family, as also friends and relations.
On this occasion sweet shops and bakeries do brisk business on this occasion. Special sweets, cakes, pasteries and biscuits are in great demand. Shops all over the town offer new varieties of items at Christmas time. So also lucrative schemes to lure more customers to loosen their purses. Some malls in the town not only make various offers of this kind but also organize interesting programmes such as simulated snow fall, cultural items by famous artists, Meet and Greet Santa Claus. . Contd..5
There is a lot of excitement in the air as the big festival gets nearer. On Christmas morning people get up early and spend the whole day preparing for the hour when Jesus was born. Right from early evening people begin to assemble in the churches located in various parts of Lake City. As a large number of tourists both Indian and foreign are there to spend their holidays in a small and quiet place like Udaipur, they flock to local churches. The biggest number can be seen at Shepherd Memorial Church as it is big and centrally located.
In Churches singing of carols and other cultural programmes begin and prayers are held. There are special services. Men, women and children in their festive dresses wait eagerly for midnight bells that announce the birth of Jesus Christ. With the sound of the Christmas bells people asssemble at churches spread all over the town such as St. Gregorius Church, Khara Kuan, Our Lady Fatima Church, near Alipura, Cavalry Church, Hiran Magri, Sector 13, Rajasthan Peticoastal Church, Near Sanjai Park, CSI Church, Titardi, Good Shepherd Church, Hiran Magri, Sector 14 and start carol singing and greeting each other. Next morning, people meet and share cakes, sweets, dry fruits etc. Families visit each other to
share joy at lunch and dinners. This is an occasion when people following different religions come together that leads to communal harmony and is a special feature of Lake City.
In Lake City people love to celebrate festivals that may be social or religious with great gusto almost all the year round and participate in fairs of various kinds. But Christmas has a charm of its own as there are year end holidays. The cold weather is also just the time to enjoy eating. With Shilpgram Utsava and Flower Show at Fateh Sagar on, the whole town seems to be in a festive mood.