Vijayawada

Soaking up a fun-filled Christmas spirit

Children performing during Christmas celebrations at St. Peter's Lutheran Church on Sambamurthy Road in Vijayawada.- Photo: V. Raju

Children performing during Christmas celebrations at St. Peter's Lutheran Church on Sambamurthy Road in Vijayawada.- Photo: V. Raju  

For Anglo-Indians in the city, celebrations start long before Christmas. A few days before the festival, the Christmas tree is decked up, and Santa Claus visits homes, gifting toys and hampers to children.

It is Christmas eve, and excitement and eagerness abound.

But, in Anglo-Indian households in the city, celebrations start long before Christmas. In November, to be precise, when they start making wine and cake. Wine, dance and a get-together, besides prayers and mid-night masses pack a wallop. Much before December 25, the big day, Anglo-Indian households throb with beats of merriment.

This happy-go-lucky community, which is never too exhausted, opens its doors to boisterous revelry that marks celebration. In the first week of December, they form a group and go house-to-house, singing carols and sharing love and joy. The hosts offer goodies and wine to the carol party.

A few days before the festival, the Christmas tree is decked up, and Santa Claus visits homes, gifting toys and hampers to children.

“The number of Anglo-Indian families in the city is dwindling, as many of them have migrated to countries like Canada, Australia, UK and Dubai. Earlier, we had a large crowd, and so, the size of the celebrations was very big,” recalls Karen Ann Francis. The city has 500-odd Anglo-Indians.

Morning service

Midnight mass is an essential component of Christmas. But, most Anglo-Indians are forced to skip the mass, as it is mostly done in Telugu. “We are forced to go for the morning service,” says Ms. Francis who was born and bred here. “My father’s grandfather was a Briton,” she adds.

Food is important part of the celebrations. On Christmas day, Anglo-Indians start their day with the traditional breakfast of ham, bacon, eggs and chicken stew. Afternoon is the time to savour coconut rice and kofta curry made from minced meat balls and ‘fiery mother-in-law tongue chutney’, also called ‘devil chutney’ or ‘hell’s flame’ chutney. “It is made from onions, dry chilli, lemon, plum and sugar,” says Ms. Francis. Evening is spent digging into delicious cakes and other snacks, and for supper, it is turkey roast.

The members of the community mostly meet at the Assumption Church at Pezzonipet where they have a community hall where get-togethers are organised.

“Family’s day out”

December 26 is eagerly awaited by the young who meet over Christmas dance. “Many pairs are formed in the course of this dance. We Anglo-Indians don’t like arranged marriages and want our youngster to look for their own partners,” she explains.

“Family’s day out’, an occasion for families to bond over lots of fun and games, is on December 29, and it culminates in New Year celebrations.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 12:12:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/soaking-up-a-funfilled-christmas-spirit/article8024527.ece

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