by Dr. Venugopal Menon


There is general scholarly consensus that St. Thomas the Apostle came to the Malabar coast of India, in AD 52 and by the 6th century, Christianity was established in the country. Initially, they used Syriac liturgies and by the 15th century, several western Christian denominations like Latin Catholics and Protestants were living in different parts of the country. Many Christian schools, hospitals, and primary care centers were created through Roman Catholic missions.

India, the land of vibrant culture and ethnicity is a secular nation, people following different religions coexisting in harmony. All the important festivals of the religions are celebrated with equal pomp and gaiety. Although Hindus predominate the total population of the country, about 2.5 % of people follow Christianity. They celebrate Christian festivals including Christmas, Easter, and Good Friday with great enthusiasm and fanfare. Friends and acquaintances following religions other than Christianity also eagerly take part in the celebrations of the Christian festivals, which speaks volumes for the unity in diversity in India.

India has a system of a limited number of restricted holidays that gives individuals the flexibility to take time off to celebrate a holiday within India's vast religious and cultural society. Since there are many religions and traditions in India, such an option allows each group to choose their holidays.



Millions of Indian Christians celebrate Christmas in a most traditional way and with enthusiasm and vigor. There are several beautiful churches throughout the country. Christians attend the Midnight masses, with the churches remaining open through the night and people come with family and friends, often non-Christians. The state of Kerala has the largest number of Christians in India and celebrates Jesus Christ’s birthday most gloriously, and as one of the most popular festivals of Kerala. Homes and churches are decorated, star lamps are mounted on the trees, Christmas trees are set up, non-Christians are invited, greeting cards are sent, friends participate in feasts and in exchanging gifts. Carols are arranged and groups of singers march through the streets.


Easter and Good Friday

In India, as elsewhere Easter is celebrated and begins with Lent and culminates with Easter Sunday. Easter is the most festive event of the Christians celebrated all over the world. It falls on a Sunday. It signifies the remembrance of Jesus Christ resurrecting from death after his crucifixion as we’ve all read in the bible.

The Good Friday in commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Cavalry. It is also known as Holy Friday or Great Friday. The worshippers gather in the church, they are read Gospels from the Bible to remember and relive the days of Jesus. Christians of all denominations participate in their groups, observe fasting and other traditions including eating meat during the time.

Most Christians in India are in Kerala, Goa, the states of Bombay, and the North-Eastern areas. Good Friday is a day of sadness and mourning, and the services happen in the afternoon. India is diverse with sets of people and their traditions, but everyone is involved with everyone else, people of all religions join Easter celebrations along with their neighbors and friends.

Easter is celebrated in the joy of Jesus being resurrected after the gruesome crucifixion and sacrifice for his people. The devotees believe that he fought with death, defeated it, and rose to glory. It happened on Sunday as Easter is celebrated. In Kerala, after Sunday morning mass, people eat meat, consume alcohol, and celebrate the merry occasion. In Tamil Nadu, special masses are held, in North-East states, Christians celebrate by singing folk songs, have Easter sermons, sunrise service, and even baptisms and egg hunting.