Christians Celebrates Harvest Festival in Kolkata


Kolkata Harvest Festival 12

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves;
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

On 13th of December 2015, Christians in Kolkata celebrated “Harvest Festival”, this is a tradition wherein a Sunday in the month of December is dedicated to celebrate the new harvest.  In Bengali this is known as the “Nobanno Utsab”. This is somewhat similar to that of Thanksgiving but it’s more to do with the new harvest than a Turkey. This day is observed to thank God for the wonderful harvest for the year, this tradition and its timing varies from country to country as the main harvest season differs in different country.

In India also the exact date of celebration varies between the different Christian denominations but at the heart of the celebration it’s all to thank God for the wonderful harvest. This is also a time to reflect the hard work put in by the farmers with blessings from God to bring in a harvest which will satisfy our hunger.

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Vegetable Baskets are Placed In front Of the Altar

We take basket full of fresh vegetables to the Church and place them in front of the altar in a symbolic gesture to have the blessings on the harvest of the year and wishing for a great year ahead with abundance of produce.

Normally every family brings their own basket thus there will be an array of fresh vegetables in front of the altar. It’s not actually restricted to vegetables but farm fresh eggs and milk are also sometimes kept along with fruits from the season.

Fresh Vegetables Are Offered For Blessings
Fresh Vegetables Are Offered For Blessings
Kolkata Harvest Festival 6
Fresh Vegetables Are Offered For Blessings

In the village churches the villagers also bring young goat and chickens to be blessed for a year of abundance ahead. This is a common practise in the remote village churches but for obvious reasons is not practised in the city.

The church is decorated with Sheaf as a symbolic gesture which signifies a good harvest and a bunch of these are handed over to the church members while leaving the church to carry back home as a blessings. We sing a special Hymn Bringing in the Sheaves by Knowles Shaw. This song was written in the year 1874 with reference to Psalm 126:6.

Kolkata Harvest Festival 2
Sheaves a Symbol of Harvest Festival
Kolkata Harvest Festival 1
Sheaves a Symbol of Harvest Festival
Kolkata Harvest Festival 3
Sheaves a Symbol of Harvest Festival Are Placed On the Altar

The vegetables and other produce brought to the church are auctioned where the congregation for example will bid money for a kilo of tomatoes and the price obviously may go even ten times the market value. The money collected by the church are used for their own church activities and other social developmental work.

Alternately if the size of congregation in small then the families who bring the baskets take the basket back and in return donate a substantial amount to the church for their own activities.

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Fresh Vegetables Are Offered For Blessings
Kolkata Harvest Festival 8
Fresh Fruits Are Offered For Blessings
Kolkata Harvest Festival 9
Fresh Vegetables Are Offered For Blessings
Kolkata Harvest Festival 10
Fresh Vegetables Are Offered For Blessings

Once back home a grand feast is prepared with all the fresh vegetables and the whole family sits together to enjoy a good sumptuous lunch.

Kolkata Harvest Festival 11
My Daughter and Niece Posing With the Vegetables

History

This tradition has a Jewish ancestry and is known as Sukkot, this is normally celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei which roughly translates from late September to late October. In Britian it’s celebrated on the Sunday near or of the Harvest Moon which occurs between autumn equinox 22 or 23 September.

It was an occasion wherein the farmers came to the church to seek blessings for their year’s harvest, but since the city dwellers do not farm so they buy fresh fruits and vegetables from the market and then offer it.

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