Tinaz Sequeira works in Tearfund’s Donor Care team, based in Teddington, UK.
‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…’ (James 1:17)
Growing up in Bombay, India – a huge country with many cultures, languages, religions and teeming with people – Christmas was easily the most anticipated religious festival. The East Indian village that I grew up in transformed itself into a magical, bright place, where houses and balconies were lit up with colourful Christmas lights and decorations reflecting the most joyous time of the year.
I grew up outside of the Christian faith, but was surrounded by Christians on all sides and in religious India, a place where people embraced any excuse to celebrate their religious festivals, Christmas was the highlight of the year. The joy and mirth that Christmas brought was unmatched by any other festival. It is what drew me to Christianity and Christians in general.
Come December and we would join a small group of friends and go carol singing all over the village. Families started making all kinds of different and delicious sweets – the competition could get quite intense! People came together, strangers became friends, forgiveness, peace and joy were in the air. It was truly a wonderful time! Even people of other faiths joined in the celebrations.
And what exactly did we do on Christmas day itself? We went to church for a midnight service, visited neighbours, exchanged gifts, showed off our lights and decorations, offered our guests the sweets and food we made, and generally shared all our experiences, often laughing with and at each other.
It was always very special and has given me some of the best childhood memories I still treasure.