Reviving X-mas spirit


It was the third day of Christmas Carolling. Harmonised voices teamed with harmonium and guitar warmed the chilly evening. On the small terrace of Anmol Atma Thapa’s house in Jawalakhel, a group of choir was presenting Nepali and English carols — Christmas hymns. Uchcha Sawargama, Silent Night, Mangal Raat, Aayo Aayo…the songs hit back-to-back while the crowd, of nearby area, enjoyed the songs with much delight, seldom stepping out with some dance moves. Singing and dancing for more than an hour, the carolling ended on a high note with some tea and munchies.

Amidst the ongoing fuel crisis, Christmas festivity for the Christian families of Catholic Church of The Assumption Church situated at Dhobighat, started with carol singing — the tradition of singing Christmas songs at Christian households to deliver the message of birth of Jesus Christ. It embarked on December 14. The celebration has been marred by the crisis of fuel but the Christmas spirit has not been dampened by it, only slightly affected.

“After some thoughts on whether to carry out the carol singing or not, we went on with carolling despite the fuel crisis. Otherwise, we would have started it a few days earlier. There is no fuel, but we have to travel for carol singing to different places. Due to transportation problem, we are going for carolling during the day, in the afternoons instead of night,” shared Augustine Lepcha who is the in-charge of carol group of The Assumption Church.

Carol singing is one of the most important elements of Christmas that brings people together and prepares them spiritually for the main day of Christmas — December 25.

If there is no fuel, there is no transportation. This has affected the number of people attending carol singing to which Lepcha added, “Church has provided us with a van in which we travel to go carol singing. It takes places at one of the houses of certain area (each area has around 20 families). Due to transportation problem, we are seeing less attendance of people. People who live faraway are not attending the carol singing.”

As such, carol singing has been cut short till December 19 this year, as per Lepcha, due to the ongoing situation that usually used to be held from December 10 to December 21 resuming from December 25 to 28 in earlier years.

On the other hand, host Thapa was not satisfied with how he attended his guests. He wanted to hold Christmas carolling at his place since last year but could not do as planned — all due to the LPG shortage.

The 48-year-old informed, “I wanted to do something special for guests, especially elderly ones. I planned to treat them with mitho mitho (delicious) food — rice, meat, daal, and soup. But all I could prepare from one mud stove was tea

and snacks.”

He runs a boys’ hostel and depends on firewood for cooking while his induction heater is not reliable.

Furthermore, he cancelled Christmas gathering with close friends “without whom Christmas celebration is

not fun”.

But in a small community of Pragati Church, Imadol, Christmas celebration is less likely to be affected. The pastor of the Church, Arjun Kumar Mendies implored, “Christmas comes once in a year and the current circumstance has not made an impact on Christmas celebration and preparation.”

Citing the reasons he added, “Our carol singing starts from December 20 and people have invited us for the carol singing. I believe it is the same with other churches as well.”

The only problem here is that “we have to reserve a vehicle to go carolling that is charging an exuberant fare. They say they bought fuel in the black market and we have to understand that”.

Initially, the Church faced problems because of the fuel crisis. With black market in rise, transportation problems came in control as fuel was easily available after paying higher price. As per Mendies, their people come to church on foot now and people will attend once its time for Christmas celebration no matter what.

Even Parish Priest of The Assumption Church, Ignatius Rai, is of opinion that everyone will be a part of Christmas on December 25 even though the Church has “witnessed a decrease in number of devotees after the fuel shortage”.

Christmas will be celebrated but the spirit has been definitely depleted to which Rai explains, “The country is going through crisis. Common people have obviously been affected. They are going through tension now due to fuel crisis because they have to live.”

Before the big day, from carol singing to church decoration take place. And Rai insists people will be deprived of “carol singing and participation of church decoration if they live far away due to transportation problems, despite willing to be a part of it”.

Grand celebration takes place during Christmas where people come together, but fuel crisis has taken this opportunity away from them. Even carol singing has been cancelled at Believers Church in Jawalakhel.

Elder Soman Rai cites, “Like earlier years, Kathmandu’s several churches used to meet on December 25 but this won’t happen this year due to transportation problem. It is also tough to prepare food for the mass. Each church will celebrate at one’s own venue with a simple feast.”

“And Christmas carolling will be one time affair which will be held on December 24 when we have candle light,” he added.

Fuel crisis has had an impact in every aspect of life. But it has not deterred any activity of life. Christmas is no exception. It will be celebrated by spreading good news of Christ’s birth and happiness despite the current situation.