The birth of Jesus Christ and his life inspired mankind to follow the message of love, compassion and brotherhood. Today, as the world finds itself plagued by conflict, hatred and violence, his words and deeds have the power to heal wounds and show the way out.
Christmas is a day of celebration of human values that nurture caring and sharing and transform life itself into a celebration.
We all know how important Christmas Eve is for followers of the Christian faith. The occasion is celebrated in various ways by celebrating the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and remembering him as the savior of mankind.
The Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission, which stand as a unique symbol of the harmony of religions, also appropriately celebrate this occasion.
In fact, the celebration is held at the main temple itself in almost all branches of mathematics and mission.
The festivities match those of any popular church in the city, with Christmas carols, lighted candles, prayers and cake offerings, etc. On this day, the temple is beautifully decorated and the pictures of baby Jesus and that of the Lord Jesus are placed on an altar and worshipped.
Central Delhi has a long tradition in this regard. Every year, the Archbishop of Delhi and other dignitaries join in the celebration. A special prayer meeting is held in which monks read the Bible and sing Christmas carols in front of an altar adorned with a laminated image of Christ revealing his Sacred Heart as well as another photo of Mary with the child Jesus.
A monk performs a special Christmas Eve aarti with candles and offers cakes and cookies etc. to Christ. Christmas carols are sung followed by short addresses by a monk, the Archbishop of Delhi and a priest.
The Ramakrishna Mutt & Mission has a very special association with Christmas Eve.
In 1886, about four months after Sri Ramakrishna left this world, Swami Vivekananda and eight of his disciples gathered in a village called Antpur in the Hooghly district of West Bengal at the invitation of Matangini Devi, the mother of one of his brother disciples.
They didn’t even know it was Christmas Eve. An immense spirit of renunciation raged in their hearts. After sunset, they lit a fire called “Dhuni” by traditional Hindu monks and sat around it to meditate. After long meditation, Swami Vivekananda opened his eyes and spoke of the extraordinary sacrificial life of Jesus Christ and urged his fellow monks to take the vows of renunciation and service with fire as a witness.
The next morning, they realized that the night before was the sacred Christmas Eve.
Antpur village is now highly developed and also has a beautiful center of Ramakrishna Math. Slowly Christmas Eve became one of the important celebrations of the Order of Ramakrishna. Today, monks and devotees in 221 centers in 23 countries of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission celebrate the occasion with due solemnity.
Let us reaffirm today our determination to walk the path that Jesus Christ showed and to create a kinder and more equal society.