FaithTech Series: Here’s how British Indians celebrated a somewhat different Christmas 2020

FaithTech Series: Here’s how British Indians celebrated a somewhat different Christmas 2020

As Covid-19 restrictions tightened on December 19 and most of the UK was put into Tier 4, millions were forced to cancel Christmas Day plans with loved ones. Despite limited festivities this year, many of us still managed to preserve the festival’s message of peace, joy and unity, albeit virtually and from a distance.

With churches up and down the country restricting access, many were not able to attend midnight mass to light a candle and sit in communion. Prayers, events, parties and nativity plays were adapted to take place over Zoom, and we found new ways of being together whilst physically apart.

‘iGlobal’ caught up with some Indian Christians across the UK to find out how they did things a little differently this year.

Trevor’s Keralan Christmas

Trevor Peter from Redbridge in east London told us that the Malayali community of the Kerala Catholic Association were not able to host their annual Christmas event, at which they usually assemble for an evening of dancing, singing, theatre and food. He recalls anchoring the event in his youth and hosting famous south Indian singer Biju Narayanan on the community stage.

“I’m missing the British Keralites Association’s annual five-a-side football competition in Hounslow too because it was a great way to see familiar faces who you sometimes wouldn’t otherwise see in the year,” Trevor told us.

Another missed event on Trevor’s calendar this year is the ‘Pullichira Perinal’ church festival. “Many Malayalis fly over for the festival in December so it’s a shame we had to miss it this year, but we were still able to tune in from home as it premiered live on YouTube.”

Not being able to get the extended family together this year meant that many opted out of an extensive spread of seasonal dishes. Rather than having a whole turkey and all the trimmings this year, Trevor shared that he and his family had a Keralan Christmas lunch of appam and chicken stew, followed by chicken biryani for dinner.

Mina’s mince pies

Mina De Souza from Birmingham told us her local church used this period of isolation to support those most vulnerable in the community. They packed hampers of essential items and mince pies for those who were spending the day alone.

“We’ve had to find ways to add a personal touch and show the people we care about that we’re there for them. We asked the children from the church to write handwritten letters for the elders in the community who weren’t able to see family and friends. The only way we’re going to get through this is together,” Mina shared.

Classical musical medley

To bring the spirit of celebration back into the season, Sitar Music Society launched an Indian classical festive medley on their Facebook page.

The group includes Roopa Panesar on the sitar, Kaviraj Singh on the santoor and Upneet Singh on the tabla. Together, in Christmas jumpers and the snow, they have put together a unique ten minutes of Christmas classics.

“We've created a very special medley of well-known Christmas songs for you to enjoy. Sing along, feel festive and share the Christmas spirit with your family, friends, and loved ones,” the group wrote.

*Let us know how you spent Christmas differently, here

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