Xmas In Kerala

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 Dr. Vishaal Bhat 1 Comments



In December, the whole of Kerala plunges into a festive mood due to the presence of a huge Christian population in the state. But the birth of Christ is celebrated in different ways by different sects with the conservative Syrian Christians abstaining from non-vegetarian food while the Roman Catholics binging on ducks and chicken. The Anglo-Indians and Latin Christians have their own mode of celebrating Christmas.

Syrian Christian adhere to a strict vegetarian diet from Dec 1. For them the only decoration is a brightly lit star hung in front of their house. But with the present generation getting more and more Westernised, even the Syrian Christians’ front yard is now sported with artificial trees glittering through out the season.

More spirited are the Anglo-Indians and Latin Catholics of Kerala during the season with their Portuguese and Dutch influences giving a different hue to the celebration. They embellish their houses with stars, trees and crib brightly lit with lights of different colours. Christmas is also a festival to reckon with family get-together, carols and fireworks. Gourmets look forward to the day when the dining table bubble over with delicacies ranging from duck roast and chicken to pork vindaloo. From homemade goodies to plum cake from the local bakery, Christmas, with each passing generation, has witnessed trends and eating habits changing tremendously.

The highlight of the festival is the midnight mass, when the whole community gets together at the local church to pray. Later in the day, family members toast the day with cake and wine. The highlight of the day is the sumptuous meal of roast turkey or roast duck if the turkey is not available. Unlike Latin Catholics who opt for fish on Christmas day (thanks to their coastal ties), Anglo-Indians relish the day with a variety of meat preparations. Some of the exotic snacks like kulkuls, paitoonda, rose kokis, diamond cuts and the ambrosial dho dhol also has huge demand on that day. The elders also give away presents to youngsters.

The much-spirited goodwill and the message of ‘peace on earth’ is spread around with the young crooners of the community carolling in the crisp cool of the night. The festivities reaches its climax on Dec 31 when the fireworks rend the still of the night and ‘Ole Santa’ is burnt amid the rapturous crowd. Though shops proclaim reduction sales during the season, most of the members of the community do not think twice before stretching their purse strings a little further giving ‘Christmas comes once a year’ as the excuse.

No matter how old they are, Christians welcome the day of Christmas with the same innocence and gaiety they had as children for with the birth of Christ comes the message of peace and hope.

The angel’s message is as true today as it was 19 centuries ago, ‘‘Behold, I bring you good tidings... peace on earth and good will among men.’’

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1 comment :

  1. The angel’s message is as true today as it was 19 centuries ago, ‘‘Behold, I bring you good tidings... peace on earth and good will among men.’’Wishing your family and you a Merry Christmas!!

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