From merely cutting cakes, singing carols, and dressing up as Santa Claus, colleges are moving away from the traditional celebrations to make Christmas more meaningful.

That does not mean they do something less cheerful. They still continue the cake-carol-Santa Claus ritual, but do not restrict this merriment within themselves, but share this with some less fortunate ones.

Some colleges follow the tradition of mixing fruits and nuts a few weeks prior to Christmas to bake the cake. Faculty and students say that while earlier the “rich plum cakes” used to be cut, packed, and distributed to students, it is not so now.

The cakes along with some goodies are distributed to nearby orphanages and old age homes to share the joy of Christmas with them. Students dressed up as Santa Claus add gaiety to the act of sharing.

Volunteers of certain National Service Scheme (NSS) units of colleges have chosen to visit orphanages, old age homes or special homes that are inhabited by the terminally ill, and those living with HIV / AIDS, instead of attending village camps.

V. Ahalya, NSS volunteer at Avinashilingam University for Women, sharing the experience her group had at Assisi Snehalaya, a home for those living with HIV / AIDS, especially children, said it gave all of them a deep sense of fulfilment at having celebrated Christmas with them.

“We were deeply touched to see that these children had high levels of self-esteem and self confidence and enthusiastically participated in the games and other events we organised for them. They did not seem to show any kind of sadness about their condition,” she said.

The mere practice of distribution of sweets and new clothes during festivities has been extended to include more involvement from students. They not only personally hand over these, but also spend quality time with orphaned children or the abandoned elderly to show that they care.

Some colleges say that their next festivity plan is for Pongal when they will distribute sweet pongal and also perform some traditional folk dances to lighten the hearts of those who are not as privileged as those living with families.

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