Tis the Season to be Jolly

Neighbourhoods filled with melodious sounds of car ol singing, the sweet aroma of cakes and cookies emanating from bakeries, decked up churches and markets filled with Christmas trees, Santa figurines and poinsettia flowers are just some things that announce Christmas is her e.

Words: MIA GANDHI

One of the most awaited and loved winter festivals, Christmas brings along with it a lot of cheer and hope and also encourages us to experience the joy of giving. While there are many ways to soak in the Yuletide spirit in India, why not plan a Christmas outing to make the festival all the more merrier? So go ahead and indulge in Goa’s Portuguese-influenced Christmas meals or tag along with locals at Puducherry’s French-style celebrations or shop at Kolkata’s well-stocked Christmas markets to experience a different Christmas this year.

Goa

No place in India is as magical on Christmas as Goa. With Roman Catholics forming a major chunk of the Goa population, add to it the Portuguese legacy, this beach state celebrates Christmas in the most traditional way.

Keeping in tradition with the Portuguese style, Goans decorate their homes with nativity scenes depicting Mother Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. The entire city is decorated with poinsettia flowers and lights. One can experience a slice of the local life by attending a midnight mass at one of the stunningly decorated historical churches or visiting one of Goa’s heritage cathedrals. Some famous ones include Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral, Chur ch of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and Church of St. Francis of Assisi.

Goan homes and bakeries make sweets such as dodol (coconut and cashew squar es), neureos (stuffed dry fruit and coconut balls), kol-kols and fruit cake. Families and friends bond over Christmas lunches and dinners which are usually coupled with live music. To get a taste of the traditional Christmas meal, try the traditional Goan curry, Sorpatel, Chicken Carfeal and Bebinca, the quintessential Goan dessert, at any of the restaurants or beach shacks. A Portuguese special dish called Bacalhau da Consoada is traditionally prepared on Christmas eve.

Also known for its party scene, Goa hosts all-night-long parties on the beaches like Anjuna, Mapusa and Candolim during Christmas.

Puducherry

Christmas in this former French colony, made up of a majority of Christian population, is as grand as it is authentic. The number of French natives visiting the city during the festival turns it into something like a ‘mini France’. No wonder that Puducherry is a preferred Christmas destination in India.

One is spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing which place to head to, for the midnight Christmas mass with the city being home to lovely churches that have eye-catching Roman and Gothic architecture and stunning Christmas decorations. The sight of the French singing carols along with Indians is one to remember!

Locals in Puducherry celebrate Christmas with full gusto following all the traditions and rituals, and are quite enthusiastic about doing up their Christmas decorations—the Christmas tree, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, flower plants, and holly.

The next thing to experience in the city is its fabulous dinners during Christmas. There are many restaurants here that offer the traditional turkey dinner during the festive season.

The beauty of Puducherry touches your core and celebrating Christmas here is a great choice as apart from enjoying the festivities, one can simply put up their feet and relax at one of the many wonderful beaches. Sri Aurobindo Ashram is another place that attracts followers from all over the world during Christmas.

Mumbai

Christmas is something which should not be missed in Mumbai. It is celebrated with much fervour as the city’s Christian community makes it an affair not to miss. People from different religions living in Mumbai have a unique way of celebrating Christmas. Well-attended masses are held at historic churches, like Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount in Bandra . The City of Dreams is covered in Christmas themed-decorations with parties and events being held at different locations and one can also try various festive dining options.

Walking down Hill Road is always fun when you are in Mumbai for Christmas. During the season, this road transforms into a red and green wonderland. Bigger shops like Cheapjack and Something Special have a huge variety of decorations and gifts. Christmas trees of all sizes deck up the front of stores waiting to be whisked away.

Several smaller shops and roadside vendors too display their wares to haggling shoppers. Popular gifts include Christmas crockery with pictures of Santa Claus, reindeer, and other Christmassy figurines and photo frames.

 

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