Gathering to honor the talents and traditions that have inspired its members for many years, the Kerala Association of New England held its thirty-first celebration of the Christmas/New Years season on December 29, 2001. The program took place at the Keefe Technical School in Framingham, Massachusetts.
The two hour program included an address by Reverend Dr. Christopher Durai Singh, who reflected on the Christmas season as a time for people of all faiths to come together to foster mutual respect and world peace. A play, "Shepherd Boy Jesse," bringing together the work of more than twenty young people, presented the journey of a child whose faith motivates him to take a gift to the Christ child. Following the play, little angels performed a folk dance symbolically honoring the birth of Jesus.
Other groups of young people performed traditional folk dances representing the life of Jesus. Adults performed non-traditional Christmas songs as well, and midway through the program, the audience joined the performers in a festive carol song. Adding flavor to the festivities, other adults and young people sang secular songs. At the conclusion of the program, as performers and audience sang "Jingle Bells," a well-known visitor from the North, Santa Claus, made his appearance, offering gifts to the children. Refreshments at the end of the program included the traditional Vattappan and fruitcake.
As President of KANE, I was pleased to introduce the program of events and to highlight the wonderful opportunity the Christmas celebration gives members and participants to express gratitude for our culture. Programs like this annual celebration build community, encourage our children to use their talents, and help them to understand the role of tradition in our lives. As our young people grow up in this sometimes troubling world, they need a strong faith, that "bird that feels the light," as Ravindranath Tagore said, "and sings when the dawn is still dark." In myriad way, the KANE celebration affirms and sustains faith as it brings together children and adults whose religions may differ but whose aspirations are the same.(Veena Pillai is the President of the Kerala Association of New England(KANE). )
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