In Photos: What Christmas Looks Like In India, With 24 Million Christians


This year, Christmas seems particularly fraught in some parts of India.

A right-wing Hindu group in the state of Uttar Pradesh has warned schools not to celebrate the occasion, claiming it would lead to “forced conversions” to Christianity. Meanwhile, in Madhya Pradesh, a group of carol singers was recently detained by the police and had their car torched, reportedly for the same reason.

But Christmas has become more than a religious festival in the country, which is home to around 24 million Christians who account for just over 2% of the total population. In recent years, Christmas has evolved into something that is celebrated in almost every city by locals of different faiths, who decorate their homes with trees and lights, and even cook up delicious feasts for friends and family. Across India, you’ll spot vendors on the streets selling Santa hats, neighbourhood stores bursting with trees, tinsel, the occasional carol singers, and other such things.

A vendor wearing a Santa Claus cap waits for customers in a street ahead of Christmas in Kolkata

Indian people buy decorative items at a public square ahead of Christmas in Calcutta, Eastern India, 18 December 2017. Christmas Day is a holiday observed generally on December 25 to commemorate the birth of Jesus. Although nominally a Christian holiday, Christmas is also widely celebrated by many non-Christians.




A vendor sells Christmas goodies on a street in Mumbai


India Christmas