Christians in Karachi’s largest Christian neighbourhood, Essa Nagri are getting geared up to celebrate Christmas with traditional fervency and zeal.
Youngsters prepare the nativity scene as they adore the streets with decorations. “We’ve been doing this for years,” said one of the Christian youngster who had been setting p the crib in one the streets of Essa Nagri. “We use our pocket money to buy what’s needed to make a simple crib and decorate it with lights. By morning, it will be ready.”
Karachi’s Essa Nagri which when translated in English means “City of Jesus” is predominantly inhabited by Christians who have a low-income. This neighbourhood extends over 10 hectares of land and overtly reflects inter-faith harmony, as some Muslims also inhabit this neighbourhood. Muslims have set up their shops, tea stalls and businesses in the area.
Previously, the Christians of Essa Nagri have had to face threatening situations when pashtuns posed threats to them. It is estimated that Essa Nagri has some 45,000 incumbents however, local Christian leaders claim that the Christian population of this area might be close to 200,000.
Essa Nagri was initially inhabited by a small group of Christians who had come from Punjab to Karachi in search of jobs back in 1960s. In recent times, Essa Nagri has emerged as Karachi’s major safe haven for the Christian community.
40-year-old, Johnson Gill, a Christian resident who has been selling Christmas items since almost twenty years now says, “December is easily the best month of the year mainly due to Christmas sales. Although our daily sales have risen significantly since the start of December, we will have no time to even scratch our heads after Dec. 20 when people begin to receive their monthly salaries.”