Its Christmastime once again.

Let us celebrate Christmas in its true religious spirit, whilst we still can. For in our society today, under the guise of diversity in a multi faith society, those with a more secularistic inclination, are using political correctness as a mechanism for re ordering the world according to a particular dogma. Even schools described as being 'in the Christian tradition', have little to say about its present life or aspiration - their interest in staging a Nativity Play, could well be challenged.

In the context of this looming militant secularism, let us recall the Christmas of 1962 in Kotahena Colombo. At Sunday morning mass at the Cathedral in August that year, Noel Cruz, then a priest at the Parish, handed invitations to selected individuals in the congregation. In all, some 200 individuals in their late teens and early 20's were selected for the cast of a Grand Nativity Play to be staged at St. Lucia's Parish that Christmas.

At the first meeting of the cast, Noel Cruz who directed the play, had all details planned. Those playing the major roles namely, Mary and Joseph, Angel Gabriel, Mary's cousin Elizabeth, Herod and his wife and courtiers were notified. Others acting in groups and those for organisational roles were picked. Likely expenditure and how monies would be raised, were all detailed with precision.

It was decided, that there will be six stations in
Recollections and a Festive Remembrance

By Dr Remy Perumal, Retired Consultant Physician & Freelance Journalist

elevated positions around the Cathedral Square to stage scenes ranging from the Annunciation through to
Angel Gabriel's message to Joseph, Herod's Court and the Journey to Bethlehem.

A punishing schedule with weekly rehearsals was revealed. The strict weekly rehearsals were to continue into December, culminating in the final dress rehearsal that would be staged, the day before the play.

At 7.00Pm on the day, the Cathedral square was filled to capacity, lighting technicians were in their positions and the full choir and the accompanying musicians were in attendance. Even the "collectors" were strategically placed with their buckets.

As the play began, actors emerged from their dressing areas and moved in turn, to their positions on the relevant stage. Each scene was acted in sequence with a commentary by Noel and the appropriate carol was sung by the choir. In between the stage acts, the portly figure of the High Priest was seen ambling amongst the 'women and children of Jerusalem', in the raised area, just outside the front

of the Cathedral.

The penultimate scenes staged were, Angel Gabriel's message to Joseph and the Journey to Bethlehem with Mary riding on the Donkey.

The final Station was of course, the stable by the grotto, in the cathedral square. Joseph and Mary were there, kneeling by baby Jesus, watched by the shepherds as the choir and congregation sang the carol

"O come all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye
to Bethlehem"

This cleverly directed Production which brought together the youth of the Parish, has left unforgettable memories to the finest detail.

Nativity plays have been an integral part of Christmas celebrations. Today however, we are faced with the kind of secular intolerance that is in danger of pushing these Christmas Traditions and Christianity itself, to the very margins of society. Only with vigilance and due resistance will those attempting to hijack the treasured traditions, be faced down.

Fifty years on, this festive remembrance is penned for late Noel Cruz and fellow amateur actors. Whether still with us or have passed on, they played their role in that Unique Pageant, depicting the events of that Holy Night, centuries ago .

"Oh Holy Night, the stars
are brightly shining
It is the Night of Our Dear
Saviour's Birth"

Pageloads since 16th August 2013