As some of us have gone caroling, Christmas tree decorating or dropped by a candlelit church service lately, we’ve never envisaged a moment where it’d be dangerous to do such activities.
Halfway across the world, in India, they can be life-threatening.
We're not talking about the scrappy evangelical Protestant missionary groups that have continually given Hindu groups the fits. No, we're referring to Roman Catholics, who aren't known for creating religious tensions there.
Welcome to the India of 2017. This is a major story, on the global religion scene, but not one American readers see in headlines or on the evening news.
A recent piece in the New York Times provides a door into what is happening.
NEW DELHI -- Tehmina Yadav is a Muslim woman married to a Hindu man. The other night, she was hanging ornaments on a Christmas tree.
In India, a country that is about 80 percent Hindu, Christmas is becoming big business. Airlines play Christmas music, online vendors sell holiday gift baskets, and one especially enterprising young man, Kabir Mishra, rents out a contingent of Hindus dressed as Santa Claus.
“I can provide as many Santas as you want,” he said.
Sitting next to her Christmas tree at home in Delhi, Ms. Yadav said that in India, there was nothing strange about non-Christians celebrating Christmas. Indians have always observed a dizzying number of festivals regardless of religious affiliation, and even though Christians represent only 2.3 percent of the population, Christmas is recognized as a government holiday.
A leftover of its colonial days, the article explains later. But now:
But as far-right Hindu groups have gained traction, India has changed. Christmas has now found itself caught in the cross hairs.