The year is about to end. While some cannot wait for the New Year, few like me don’t want this year to end. What makes the end of the year worthwhile is the Christmas celebrations in India. While malls are decked up in almost all of urban India, few big cities celebrate it like it should be. We decided to bring to you details of the festivities from four such places where Christmas celebrations are grand:
Christmas Celebrations in Kolkata is a grand affair. Winter vacations back in the childhood were even more fun because, it was Christmas time. All cousins would unite from around the world and ’twas the time to be jolly. The city, just recently awakened from the month long hangover of festivities of Durga Puja and Kali Puja/Diwali, adorns a fresh new look. Always charming, and the city readies itself to celebrate Christmas with fervor, come December. The city never discriminates amongst religions and this is evident when you see her all dolled up, just like she was in Diwali.
Carols, choirs, rock music performances, and light & sound exhibitions dot the city, of course, accompanied by delectable food. Park Street (now known as Mother Teresa Sarani) is dressed up like a bride and if you are a visitor in the city in the last half of December, you simply have to come here. The area has been a prime location for recreation since decades, ever since the British era. The shops in New Market (and the rest of Lindsay Street) are thronged with shoppers finishing their last minute Christmas shopping. Also known as Hogg market, this area is ideal for upscale shopping. Stopping over at Nahoum, which is an incredibly good Jewish bakery, is a must.
Christmas in Kolkata is special. Referred to as the Bada Din, it is regarded as just that – Big Day. Christmas celebrations in Kolkata were initially just for the Christians and the Anglo-Indians but soon it became a festival for everyone. As much as the city enjoys pandal hopping during Durga Puja, it indulges in carols and Midnight Masses during Christmas.
The last week of December is the time entire Kochi waits for, all year round. Fort Kochi is decked up and the Christmas Carnival is held at this time. The main attraction of the carnival is a procession of elephants, lots of games and parties galore. Dating back to the colonial days, the event had started off as Portuguese New Year celebration. Preparations for the event begin months in advance. In the last ten days of December, the entire city of Kochin dons the colour of white. There are Christmas markets everywhere and literally everyone is seen shopping. Competitions are help impromptu and there is fun unlimited.
Thousands of visitors throng the city during Christmas and the fort has an overflow of visitors. Apart from shopping, celebrating and partying, people also indulge in competitions and adventure sports. The Kochi Christmas Carnival is a one of its kind event in south India.
Mumbai, without doubt, is a true metropolitan. The same fervor with which Ganpati festival is celebrated can be seen during Diwali, Christmas, etc. This time of the year too, the city is decked with lights just like it was during Diwali. The city has a sizeable amount of Catholic population, however almost everyone joins in the celebrations. There are lights everywhere, sound of carols being practiced, smell of cakes being baked and fragrance of other delicacies being prepared.
The city has innumerable events, workshops and parties lined up for the week. The churches are all lighted and ready for the Midnight Mass. Everyone is ready with gifts for their loved ones. And being true to the city’s reputation, Mumbai’s Christmas parties are to die for and must-attend.
Christmas is celebrated on account of Jesus Christ’s birthday. However, the celebrations are not restricted just to the churches. Goa is a fine example of how grand Christmas celebrations can be. The market places are abuzz with activity and churches are all decked up with activities lined up apart from the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass.
In Goa, Christmas is not only about celebrating by yourself. Dressed as Santa, few people go around, collecting funds which are later used to treat the poor or the unwell.
Goa’s famous Christmas fruit cake is made in every household and also sold everywhere. It is made of wine and dry fruits, and tastes simply divine. Christmas in Goa is mostly celebrated with family. On the evening of the Christmas Eve, people get together with their families and have a lavish dinner. This usually includes turkey, sorpotel, etc. Sweet shops sell local sweet delicacies like neuros, dodol and bebinca. Just before midnight, the families head towards their respective churches for the Midnight Mass.
After the Mass, the parties begin. The next day, i.e. the Christmas day is mostly sombre and spent with family. Gifts are exchanged and bonds are strengthened.
How is Christmas celebrated in your city? Tell us in the comments below!
-Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma, Bhopal.