With the melting pot that Bengaluru is known to be, the city includes in its folds, people from across the country who herald the festive season in their own style. While for some it is all about the carol singing, for others the day is about cooking and sharing the food together with the community.
Christmas used to be more natural back home, say John William and Helen D'souza, who hail from Mangaluru and have been in the city for a while. “I remember how, as children, we would look forward to making the crib out of things like stones and hay. The water flowing in the tabloid would be actual water, unlike the ready-to-use setup that is used now,” he says.
Helen adds that the Christmas tree used to be a big branch of an actual tree, instead of artificial Christmas trees made of plastic. A combination of influences can be seen at Mishel Menezes’ household, whose parents Maria and Martin are from Goa and Coorg. “We have seen the best of both worlds, which includes the bubbly party-like nature of the Goans and the homely celebratory mode of the people of Coorg. Our household would always see a perfect mix of these,” she says.
Mishel says that while she and her sister Meryl have always gorged on Goan foods like ‘dodol’ (small toffee like sweets), ‘bibinka’, ‘dos’, ‘rose cookies’, ‘kedio’, ‘neureos’, wines from grapes, cashews, amla, rum-soaked-plum cake and date wraps, their household also served interesting Coorgi delights like ‘sanna’ and pork.
The holiday season is about spending time with cousins and extended family, says Andria Pinto, who hails from Mangaluru. “While people here meet up with friends and spend time with them , the holiday is synonymous with family time in our hometown. Everyone collects at the church and it is like a big family gathering, with everyone attending the Christmas Mass together followed by games etc,” details Andria.
She adds that the day includes items like ‘gulio’, ‘kalkal’ and ‘chakkli’. “On the day before Christmas, our family distributes ‘kuswar’ (a set of unique Christmas goodies) to neighbours and family. The large spread of the day includes items like rice, curry, chicken stew and ‘appam’, and salads. Right after the midnight mass, we come back and indulge in cake and wine, which is an important tradition,” says Andria.
Richard Mascarenhas, who hails from South Canara, says that while the day includes spending time with his family members Romal, Marie and Rickson, it was a bigger affair back home. “The season’s plans always included planting paddy seeds in the crib setup, so that they would grow naturally and look similar to the much perceived
‘nativity scene’,” he explains.
Richard remembers the day also used to be about sharing gifts and helping the poor and including them in the festivities. “Here the celebrations are at a very individual level,” he adds. Remembering the festivities, Richard says that ‘rice cookies’ used to be made at home and only cakes were bought from outside.
Celebrating as a big community is the routine for people like Yimtee Chang, who hails from Nagaland. “Back home, we cook the meals for the day as a whole and as a community. We cook pork and other poultry meat, along with sticky rice,” he says. The culture also includes visiting others with cakes and singing carols at their homes. He adds, “One of the other popular items includes rice beer, which is enjoyed by the youngsters. The day is about celebrating with the community in grand style and in a large way.”