By Santosh Digal
Bhubaneswar: A Hindu washerman in Odisha looks forward to Christmas time to indulge in his favorite passion: crib making.
“Making crib creates a God-fearing feeling within me,” says Sridhar Sethi, who has made crib at the Archbishop’s Residence in the state capital of Bhubaneswar for the past 22 years.
It all began in 1992, when Sethi as a 20-year-old began working in the archbishop’s house.
Father Bijaya Kumar Pradhan, the then secretary of Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, requested Sethi to help him put up a crib in the premises. Sethi agreed and has not looked back, although both the priest and prelate have died since then.
“Father Pradhan was an artist with fine a sense of creativity. It was he who taught me,” Sethi told Matters India December 23 as he was admiring his own creation.
He said the priest had explained to him various aspects of crib making – each element’s elements historical importance, theological meaning and spiritual significance.
“Although most of those things were beyond me, I learned in simple terms how to arrange them systematically and artistically to create a deep sense of reverence and religiosity in visitors,” the father of two said.
The crib attracts thousands during the Christmas season as the archbishop’s residence is located inside St. Vincent’s Parish.
From 1993, Sethi has made the crib on his with distinct innovation, keeping the essentials of crib intact.
“It was my own initiative to do crib and I have never looked back. It gives me lots of sense of joy in doing this, for which I am not paid. It is my sheer passion and interest in this religious act,” he added.
He begins to think, plan and start making crib gradually from September. “Once I finish my laundry work, I work on thecrib little by little during my spare time, so it does not affect my normal working hours or schedule,” Sethi added.
He says making crib over the years has brought blessings to his family and life. “God has blessed me in numerous ways,” he added.
“The session of Christmas is a time of holiness, blessings and it creates a sense of deep religiosity for all, no matter what religion one belongs. This is my belief,” Sethi turned philosophical. He says proclaims his belief through the crib creation.
“I wish that every time a visitor sees my creation of a crib, he or she would really feel and experience the same. I make sure that a crib evokes a sense of God in each visitor,” he added.
On Christmas day, a sea of people, mostly Hindus, throng the place from dawn to late night to see the crib.
Last year more than 10,000 visitors visited the crib at, an official in the Archbishop’s House told Matters India.
The special attraction this year’s crib is a replica of St. Peters’ Square, Rome, marking the canonization of Mother Teresa of Kolkata.
Many have admired Sethi’s crib and visitors often ask who made it. When they come to know that it was done by a Hindu, they praise him.
Kumudini Rath, a Hindu who visited the crib on Dec 23, said the crib is an inspiration. “Being a Hindu, Sethi is able to make crib with a good sense of creativity and devotion,” he told Matters India.