Today's generation celebrating Christmas in other cities and their hotels, including Delhi, will be surprised to know that Mughal rulers also used to celebrate Christmas. Except for Aurangzeb and some puppet kings, Mughal rulers from Akbar to Shah Alam have celebrated Christmas. Christmas was born in medieval Europe but started in North India during the time of Akbar who invited a priest to his court in Agra.
Agra was the most luxurious city in the East during the Mughal period. The late writer Thomas Smith said that whoever visited this place was impressed by the glare of its streets, the prosperity of trade, and the beauty of the Yamuna River adorned with palaces like a necklace.
Christmas color was seen in Agra
He used to say, "It was a metropolis in which goldsmiths from Italy, Portugal, and the Dutch-owned ships. Tourists from France, merchants, and scholars from the Middle East, including artisans from Central Asia and Iran, visited Agra." With so many foreigners, Christmas was a big thing in those days.
The Franciscan Annals state that "the joy of a mass was spread throughout the city." The style of the festival was clearly visible in the markets. Colorful arches, banners, and flags of many countries were seen waving in the market in December's cold air. "The trumpet, the clarinet sounded, the firecrackers burst and the church bell rang."
Akbar allowed the clergy to build a grand church in the city which took several heavy hours and one of them fell in the reign of Akbar's son Jahangir. It could not even carry an elephant in the town of Kotwali. The hour broke during a grand event for Jahangir's nephew. The church worker was said to have 'gone mad with joy' at that time and continued to play the hour until it broke and fell.
Fortunately, no one was injured during this period and the employee's job did not go as well. Akbar and Jahangir celebrated this festival and attended traditional banquets at the Agra Fort.
Akbar welcomed like a bishop
On Christmas morning, Akbar used to come to church with his courtiers and symbolically see the cave built to show the birth of Jesus Christ. In the evening the women and young princess of the harem visited the church in Lahore and offered candles. When Akbar used to come to Agra church every Christmas, he was welcomed as a 'bishop', bells were played and bhajans were sung. The Europeans who used to plot and fight against each other in the field, forget everything, and participate in this festival.
Agra and perhaps North India brought him a Christmas game. On Christmas night, he usually used to play the drama of the birth of Christ by wearing little children and fairies in fairies.
Security is on the royal army
During the time of Akbar and Jahangir, the play was better conducted. The royal army used to maintain peace during the play as there was a danger of the demolition of the people due to the uninvited public. The rehearsal of the play took place in the market area now known as 'Phulatti'. There used to be British headquarters there. The play was called off after 1632, as Shah Jahan differed from the Portuguese.
After the closure of the port of Hooghly, the church in Agra was dismantled and public prayer was banned by Christians. At that time hundreds of Portuguese prisoners were in Agra who were brought from Bengal. But when the relations between the Mughals and the Portuguese recovered in 1640, they were allowed to rebuild the church in Agra. The church still exists but the play was not played until the time of the Mughal ruler Mohammad Shah Rangeela. Rangeela had assisted the French Berbans and Dutch people living in Agra and Delhi since Akbar's time.