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India's Christmas gift to Bethlehem museum

Posted on Dec 22, 01:00PM | IBNS

The first ever crib set (depicting Jesus' birth) from India, designed by artists of Kolkata-based organization Church Art, would be the latest addition to the International Nativity Museum of Bethlehem's collection of 200 nativity representations or crib sets from over 60 countries.

A replica of the crib set would be unveiled at St Xaviers's college here on Saturday.

"It is a matter of great honour and prestige that artists from a Kolkata-based organization, Church Art, got to design and present the crib set to the International Nativity Museum in Bethlehem - Lord Jesus' birth place. India, which was conspicuous by its absence, will now be represented in the Museum. It is a beautiful Xmas gift from India to International Nativity Museum of Bethlehem," said Father J. Felix Raj.

"The Indian setting of the crib is a welcome step to express that Christ transcends all cultures, and belongs to the whole world. Jesus belongs to India and to the people of this great land too as the crib rightly depicts. The crib is a tribute to all those who have tried to incarnate Christ's message in our land," said Dr George Plathottam, Secretary, Office of Social Communications, Catholic Bishops Conference of India.

"The International Nativity Museum which houses worldwide collection of nativity scenes did not feature a crib set representative of one-billion plus population. Our team of artists and artisans at our Teghoria workshop in Kolkata designed a typical Indian crib set," said Subrata Ganguly of Church Art.

The Indian crib set consists of 12 figurines of various proportions and characters. Some of them are of two feet in height and include humans, animals, bamboo huts with mud walls. These figures blend in intricately to enact a native Indian village scene. Three kings and three shepherds depict the mosaic of Indian cultures. The Lady and St Joseph are dressed in typical Indian outfits - dhoti and sari. The chubby baby Jesus is wrapped in a white vest. Of the two animals placed on either side of the crib, one is a camel from Rajasthan and the other is a cow from north India.

"We have been trying to have an Indian crib set for quite some time. We are very happy to host one now," said artistic director of the International Nativity Museum, Elisa Nucci, in a message. "The dimension of our standard museum display is 88 cm high, 44 cm wide and 104 cm long," said the Museum director Salesian Fr Mario Murru.

The crib set is made of fiberglass and requires a display area of 24 square feet (6 feet by 4 feet).

The Museum was started in 1999 and is visited by pilgrims from across the world.