WISHING YOU A multicultural Christmas
North Shore residents will come together in different ways during the festive season. Families, charities and community groups will offer each other support and comfort, with many lending a helping hand to the vulnerable and the sick. In our multicultural society, there are many different ways of embracing the spirit of Christmas and here, North Shore Living speaks to three different families about how they will be ringing in the holidays.
The Mahalingam family
Nataraj Mahalingam, his wife Vinotha and their children two-year-old Loka and five-year-old Dipta will probably spend Christmas Day in the company of neighbours as they embrace the festival and spirit in their adopted city of Sydney.
"We are practicing the Hare Krsna faith but we live a 'normal Australian life' and most people in India also celebrate the birth of Jesus in some way," Nat tells North Shore Living.
The couple, who work in the IT industry, visit the Krsna Temple in North Sydney with their children during the week and on weekends and will also go and pray on Christmas Day, where offerings will be given including sweets - resembling a "birthday celebration". "We should all share in the spirituality of the day - no matter what religion you are," Nat continues.
Having been raised in Hindu families in India, the couple became Hare Krsna devotees when they arrived in Australia about 13 years ago. "Our religious practices are based on devotion to God, truthfulness, mercy to all living beings, cleanliness and austerity. These scriptures were written over 5000 years ago. Service to friends, family and others is key to our spiritual beliefs.
"We believe there is only one God - but different religions and people can call 'God' by different names."
The Malikopoulos family
For Cremorne residents Helen and Costa Malikopoulos "faith, family and charity" are the cornerstones of celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Growing up in Greece, Mrs Malokopoulos can remember as a child going to the Greek Orthodox Church for Mass at 3am and local boys going from house to house during the day singing and getting "treats" to take home.
For the past 10 years, the family has treated neighbours and visitors to their magnificent Christmas celebration and light display in Spofforth Street, Cremorne and during that time, have raised almost $30,000 for various charities, including the Cancer Council.
The family joins many other North Shore residents who decorate their homes, creating a fun and festive atmosphere for everyone.
The extended family will go together on Christmas morning to their Greek Orthodox Church at Crows Nest - having fasted all morning and sometimes for several days before sitting down to a family feast. They will go together to Mass again t on Christmas evening.
The Khan family
Yusuf Khan and his parents Eifat and Mahmood Khan of Cremorne have a long and proud history on the lower North Shore, with Yusuf's grandfather, Mr Mohammad Afif, appointed as Pakistani High Commissioner in 1948.
During this time, three generations have all embraced local culture and continued their own religious practice of Islam. "Muslims honor the life of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) by following his teachings on worshipping only God," Mr Khan tells North Shore Living. "It is important for everyone to respect each other's faiths, beliefs and culture. The most successful civilisations throughout human history have been those where this principle has been held in high esteem."
He says that Christianity and Islam share a belief in the Prophet Jesus, his virgin birth and that his mother, Mary was a pious and chaste woman who came from a noble lineage. The Khans say they are hoping to catch up with old family friends during the Christmas and holiday period.