Dreaming of a Sri Lankan Christmas!
On a beautiful warm and sunny evening in Sydney, over 200 Sri Lankan Catholics of all three communities (Sinhalese, Tamils and Burghers) gathered as one family for a Holy Mass and Christmas Carols on Sunday 4 December, at Holy Innocent’s Church, Croydon, which is also the venue for the Sri Lankan -New South Wales Catholic Association’s monthly community Mass.
The Christmas celebrations commenced with the Rosary at 4:00pm followed by the Thanksgiving Mass presided by Fr. Chaminda Wanigasena Chaplain to the Sri Lankan Catholic Community in NSW, (Homily Second Sunday of Advent is on the website).
The choir enriched the Eucharist celebration with the singing of traditional Christmas Carols.
Following the Holy Mass, community members assembled in the School Hall to join in the festive celebrations. The Sri Lankan children played a vital role in the Christmas celebrations, with the Nativity Play produced and directed by Rukshan Anthony at the beginning of the Carols program provided the good start with the right prayerful mood for the night.
The play used the very original concept that the Birth of infant Jesus depicted to have occurred in rural Sri Lanka to bring meaning to the Nativity in a Universal sense. It employed Sinhala folk music and the setup of rural village located by the banks of a river to enhance this theme. The three wise men and the shepherds came on a boat guided by the Angels and escorted by traditional Sinhala dancers depicting a joyous celebration.
Many of the children came dressed as Angles and Shepherds’ while others in their colourful costumes played their part beautifully especially Joseph and Mary. The angels, the shepherds and the three wise men, and the dancers excelled in their roles and provided support. The enthusiasm and passion displayed by all children and the dancers and the parents were amply evident.
During the night community members were provided a free meal for children (hot dog) and for adults (spicy pulled roast roll), Christmas cake, fruits, soft drinks, tea and coffee.
Singing of Christmas Carols by the community continued in the same prayerful mood after the Nativity Play. The singing was led by a small group of singers with the entire congregation invited and encouraged to join. The words were displayed on an overhead projection. After singing the carols: First Noel, Silent Night and the Sinhalese carol Kalakata Pera, the mood lightened with the singing of White Christmas and Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, to set the scene for the arrival of Santa Claus. Santa then arrived to an excited audience singing Jingle Bells. As expected Santa was a great success among children.