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Christmas Zeal in Malegaon


Friday, December 25, 2009 05:59:49 PM, Staff Reporter

St. Paul Church in Malegaon was built in 1865

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Malegaon: As Christmas fever takes 25 odd Christian families in Malegaon into its grips, newly painted walls of the St. Paul Church built in 1865, the only cathedral in Malegaon, greets people from a distance itself. Comprising around 250-300 people, most of these Christian families had migrated from places like Chalisgaon, Vaijapur, Jalna and Yeola. Residing in the premises of the church, they have now become the integral part of Malegaon. Come Christmas and everyone goes into festive mood, but the excitement of Christmas is more profound among the youngsters.


“Christmas in Malegaon starts with special Christmas Eve prayers on 24th December. Once finished with this, we reach to every house and sing carol till the wee hours”, says 15-year old Jonah Meshramkar, who came to Malegaon for celebrating Christmas from Shahada in Nandurbar district where he is studying at SAM English School. “It is just mesmerizing when everyone, while clapping in unison, sings Jingle Bell and other Christmas songs in chorus.”


Mirudula Lokhande, 11 is more candid. “I just can’t sleep for the whole night. It feels, riding on the sledge and laughing all the way, Santa, with the whole lot of gift-packs is knocking at my doorsteps”, she says.


Sending greeting cards to the relatives has always been a way for remembering them while celebrating the special moments. For the Malegaonians, however, getting quality cards for any occasion has always been a tough task. For this purpose, they rely on friends staying in metros. “My sister who stays in Kalyan, seldom comes to Malegaon”, says Isaac Ramesh Shinde. Then displaying the attractive greeting cards, he exults, “Getting the cards from Nashik is a difficult task for a person like me. Yet I send one to her in case she fails to join us for Christmas.”


Though Isaac is missing his sister this Christmas again, he is lucky to have many other people from the town who cutting across the religion lines visit the church every Christmas in large numbers. “I have come here specially to greet fellow Christians”, says Shehnaz, who came to the church along with her husband, Mohd Arif and two sons. David Meshramkar, vice secretary of the Church Committee adds, “More than 10,000 people belonging to various faiths come to the church every year on Christmas and lit the candles that easily exceed 50,000 in numbers.”


The week-long celebrations that begin with Christmas continue until the New Year starts on January 01. The effect of the excitement surrounding the annual vista and coming together of thousands of people from various faiths is invaluable for Malegaon – the town hugely populated by Muslims and where despite being famous for riots and bomb blasts people actually have more than hundred year’s history of living together.






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