A traditional platter of sweets called 'kuswar'. PHOTO BY AUTHOR
Come December, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts get decked up with festive spirit. Though Christmas is celebrated on December 25, the preparations to mark the birth of Jesus Christ begins more than a month ago. Be it preparation of cakes, cribs or kuswar (the traditional sweets made during Christmas season), each of these requires a lot of time, patience and creativity.
While cakes and cribs are common in other regions also, kuswar is something unique to coastal cities of Karnataka. The basic ingredients of kuswar sweets are wheat, maida, sugar, coconut and jaggery. Some of the popular kuswar sweets are nevryo, kideo, gulio, kokkisan, rice laddu, tukdi and of course, cakes. In fact, over 20 different traditional
recipes are used to prepare these sweets and savouries. Once it is made, the delicious kuswar is distributed among friends and family as a gesture of goodwill.
Most of the Catholic families get busy preparing these Christmas
delicacies in December. Of late, people prefer to buy kuswar from bakeries as many find making these sweets a time consuming process. Elders feel that the present generation is not keen about these traditional sweets.
One can see temporary bakeries set up to sell kuswar. Several bakeries prepare gift packs in which almost all the preparations are included. As a part of the tradition, many Christians exchange the kuswar with their brethren and people from other communities.