Suppose Charles Schulz had visited the Himalayas and had taken inspiration for Peanuts comic strip from people there. Perhaps he would have come up with something like this...
Act 6 Programs
Scene 1: Lalita’s house
Lalita: All right, who can tell me something about Christmas?
Manoj: The Maharajah of Mysore used to throw big Christmas parties at his house.
Lalita: He did not! Where do you get these ideas?
Manoj: When he was little, the maharajah got a sled for Christmas and he called it ‘Jantar Mantar.’
Lalita: I can’t stand it! All right, who can tell me why we put a star on top of our Christmas trees?
Manoj: The maharajah used to see a green star on the top of the Nizam of Hyderabad’s tree.
Lalita: He did not!...
….Lalita: (leaning on keyboard, to Manoj, who plays) Did Ravi Shankar ever play ‘Jingle Bells’? He probably thought he was too good to play Jingle Bells. (Manoj grabs keyboard away, she falls over, he exits) If I had met him, I would have said, “Hey, Ravi, old boy, play ‘Jingle Bells’.” (to Laxman) A lady from the panchayat visited. I volunteered you to sing ‘Jingle Bells’ in the Christmas program.
Laxman: You WHAT? I CAN’T SING. YOU KNOW THAT! I’VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO SING!
Lalita: Learn. (Raj enters)
Laxman: (slumping in seat) Raj, Lalita volunteered me to sing ‘Jingle Bells’ at the panchayat Christmas program. I can’t sing in public! I’m a terrible singer. I never have been able to sing.
Raj: Don’t worry about it. In Psalm 98, we read, ‘Make a joyful noise to the Lord.’
Laxman: THIS IS THE PANCHAYAT!...
…Shanti: (enters) Guess what? I’ve been asked to be in a Christmas play. I’m going to be an angel. All I have to do is say, ‘Hark’.
Laxman: I’ll trade places.
Lalita: No, you won’t! (she grabs him, starts dragging him away)…
…Lalita: He thought he could pull a fast one in front of the whole panchayat.
Raj: What did he do?
Laxman: (to Lalita) Thou speakest harsh words at yuletide. (to Raj) I said Christmas is to be a time of peace on earth, not a time of ruining a child’s holiday season by making him take part in Christmas programs.
Raj: (to Lalita) What did you do?
Lalita: Shouted at him, ‘SING, YOU IDIOT.’
Raj: (to Laxman) What did you do?
Laxman: (sings) Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.
Shanti: This is what I have to do in our school Christmas play. When the sheep are through dancing, I come out and say, ‘Hark.’….I need to practice my line. ‘Hark.’ How do I sound…
…Raj: You got it. I’ve always wondered how actors remembered all those lines.
Shanti: Do I look like an angel?
Raj: You look fine. If you had your wings on, you could just fly to the program.
Shanti: (sarcastic) Ha ha. (to Laxman) Hi. I’m writing a Christmas play for our Sunday School. In the opening scene, Nehru talks to Mary.
Raj: It wasn’t Nehru. It was Gabriel.
Shanti: Really? The kid who plays Nehru will be very disappointed. (on phone). Hello, Manoj, I’m calling about the Christmas play. Apparently I made a little mistake. No, you won’t be playing Nehru after all. You’ll be someone called Gabriel. Sure, I know how you feel. You can use the coat and rose some other time….I thought I wrote a good play, too. My best scene was where Joseph drives his family to Egypt in a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow….
….Manoj: I memorized all my lines.
Shanti: Forget them. Rub an eraser on your head…
….Priya: (enters with Mamtha) I wanted to be Mary in our church play.
Mamtha: The teacher asked me instead…
Priya: …the teacher says I’m going to play a sheep?
Mamtha: You’ll look cute in your sheep costume, Priya.
Priya: Sure, Mamtha, sure.
Mamtha: I was up late last night memorizing all my lines.
Priya: (sarcastic) All your lines.
Mamtha: Excuse me. I must leave. We’ll rehearse our first scene.
Priya: BAAA. Who wants to be in a Christmas play if they make you a sheep? A sheep doesn’t do anything.
Mamtha: They want you to rehearse your lines.
Priya: BLEAH. Another Christmas play and I have to be a sheep again. I hate being a sheep.
Mamtha: No part in a play is small if it brings joy to the audience.
Mamtha: You do that well.
Lalita: Here’s your part for the church Christmas program.
Laxman: Oh, no. Don’t tell me! Not again (she hands over paper, he reads) ‘So the words spoken through Jeremiah the prophet were fulfilled: a voice was heard in Rama, wailing and loud laments; and it was Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing all consolation because they were no more.
Lalita: Memorize it and be ready to recite it.
Laxman: I can’t memorize something like this in a week. This is going to take RESEARCH. Who was Jeremiah?...
…Raj: (to Bara) I’m going to be a shepherd in the Christmas play. This is the piece I have to memorize. ‘And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.’
Shanti: That’s a good line. I wonder who wrote it.
Raj: (to Bara) You’ll be in the Christmas play, too. You’ll be a sheep. Do you think you can imitate a sheep?
Bara: No problem. One monkey is worth a whole flock of sheep any time. (sings) Four calling birds, three French hens…
Shanti: That song drives me crazy. What’s a calling bird?
Laxman: A kind of partridge. In 1 Samuel 26.20, it says, ‘for the king of Israel has come out to seek my life just as though he were hunting the calling bird. There’s a play on words, here, you see. David was standing on a mountain calling and he compared himself to a partridge being hunted. Isn’t that fascinating?
Shanti: If I get socks again for Christmas this year, I’ll go even crazier.
Laxman: In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus. The census is said to have been to ‘all the world.’ This probably meant only the Roman Empire. When we read that there was no room at the inn, some scholars feel that the inn more likely was a private home with a guest room. The intention, of course, is to contrast a place of human lodging with a place for feeding animals. When Jesus was born, they laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2.7. Manger could also be confusing here so some scholars think perhaps the--
Shanti: Wouldn’t it be neat to have a Christmas tree completely covered with just candy canes?
Laxman: In Luke, the second chapter, the RSV translates as ‘Peace among men with whom he is pleased’. This indicates that divine peace is not dependent on human attitudes. The name Bethlehem is interesting, too. It means House of Bread. I think things like this are fascinating. What do you think?
Shanti: I think if I don’t get everything I want for Christmas this year, I’m going to gross out. (Laxman rolls his eyes)
Laxman: There were three wise men, see. They came from the east, and they were looking for Bethlehem. You know how they found it? They followed a star.
Shanti: Who was the star?
Laxman: You’ve heard of Gethsemane, haven’t you? This is the Garden of Gethsemane. And this is the Mount of Olives. And this is the Sea of Galilee. And look, here’s Bethlehem.
Shanti: That’s neat. Where’s the Taj Mahal?
Laxman: Taj Mahal?
Shanti: I thought somebody was buried in the Taj Mahal.
Laxman: You don’t know anything about Christmas, do you?
Shanti: I know I should get my share of the loot.
Laxman: I can’t stand it (Raj enters)
Raj: What’s going on here?
Shanti: Look at this picture of Jerusalem. See that dome? Isn’t that the Taj Mahal?
Laxman: First you must realize that Luke and Acts were in reality a two-volume work. Note the role of Gabriel. He also appears in Revelations and Daniel. Ask yourself what ‘finding favor’ really meant to Mary. Check out Hosea 11.1. Read chapter two of First Samuel and the One Hundred and Third Psalm.
Raj: All I ever knew about was the star and the sheep on the hillside.
Laxman: Merry Christmas, Raj.’
Show your Indian friends that they can be Indian and Christian at the same time.