My mother Dr Laura Nayak blogs from Goa:
In the past 27 years I have always spent Christmas in Bangalore with family and friends apart from once or twice in Delhi or Mumbai. But this time, with our son’s Hotel in Goa, my husband and I decided to experience Christmas in Goa like true Goans.
We reached here on18th December to a really chilly morning (most unlike our earlier Goan experiences where the weather was hot and sunny) On the 19th of December, Goa celebrated 50 years of Goan Liberation. We spent the day reading the whole story of Goan Liberation in different papers and then watching all the schools in the neighbourhood take out parades with drums and slogans in different directions. The Government of Goa also organised several programmes, among them the honouring of the famous architect Charles Correa – the world renowned son of the soil whose fame has spread far beyond the shores of his native state of Goa. Following which, there were several musical events and speeches.
Slowly the city of Panjim is getting dressed up for Christmas – the old heritage houses and hotels are painstakingly decorated with stars, Christmas trees and colourful lanterns. Lots of Santas and people singing carols in the church square.
When I was young, we youngsters used to go carol singing in Delhi from one Christian/Catholic house to another and to the Embassies as well. We were always offered plum cake, “kuswar” (a traditional Goan/Mangalorean sweet), sweet wine and given money which went for a charitable cause – Our reward was a lovely picnic after New Year.
In Goa, they have a different tradition. People of all ages dressed in Santa caps and stoles and carrying colourful lanterns walk the streets singing christmas carols to spread Christmas Cheer in the neighbourhood of Fontainhas, for both Christians and Non Christians alike. They warmly welcomed me to the group and I must say I really enjoyed reliving my childhood experience.
Most Christian households in Goa are busy making “kuswar” (with some just buying from the nearest bakery) and cakes, putting up the crib and Christmas trees. Apart from the regular stores selling Christmas decorations, several makesift ones have come up across the neighbourhood of Fontainhas. Stars of different sizes and colours have come up. And of course everyone is making the rich plum cake and different wines to share with friends and family. One old neighbour even asked me whether I’ve got my new dress ready!!!
Tomorrow we get ready for the open – air midnight mass, in front of the Church singing lots of christmas carols (the choirs have been practising seriously for the past few days) and after greeting each other come home for cake and wine.
Then to get up on Christmas Day and enjoy the festive feeling, exchange sweets with neighbours and friends and settle down to a hearty Christmas lunch.
Merry Christmas to All!