Another Christmasy feeling…

Some 14 kilometres from Kerala’s Kochi International airport and around an hour’s drive from the backwaters of Alleppey nestles a small town called Kalamassery, layered with the requisites of modern living, yet rooted in cultural antiquity. To its south is the small residential colony of Changampuzha Nagar, clustered in contradiction, with both alluring as well as lurid row houses. 

I was here on Christmas Eve, away from home for the first time, trying best to overcome the blues that come along with the absence of family on the most awaited festival of the year. But my best friend’s brother was to be married in a day and I knew that it meant so much more to be by her side to share and revel in the same happiness as she did. So there I was at the Kappalumackal Home with one of the most adorable families I have ever seen or known. 

But right now, I am speaking of Christmas and in Kerala, I was told that it is of a different kind. 
Coming from a family, which celebrates the richness of Karwaris, the tradition of Mangaloreans and the merriment of Goans, I was not half as surprised when I witnessed the subdued Christmas celebrations of Kerala, especially the midnight service. 
For me, thanks to the churches of Mumbai and Muscat, midnight mass has been all about dressing in flashy clothes (never mind showing off a little bit of skin here and there), enjoying the rapturous carols of the choir or may be pinning your hopes on a good sermon by the priest, so that you are still wide awake for the after party at home after mass. Let’s not forget the coffee and cakes. 
But while all this may sound weird to a few, this is the only thing that I may have come to love about Christmas, often leaving me with no scope to appreciate a celebration of another kind. So much so that when I first entered the church in Kalamassery, I was appalled by the simplicity of the congregation. For starters, if you are the kind of person who buys a Rs 1,000-pair of shoes or heels just for Christmas, it is better to leave them behind. In Kerala, a Rs 20 chappal will do, cause you leave them at the doorstep of the church before entering for mass. This piece of advise remains, unless you want your shoes flicked by a robber, who could open a shoe shop, if there were bigger fools like you at mass.  
Also, no one is festively dressed. Men prefer plain shirts and pants/ mundus, while women prefer simple saris and salwar kameezes. Another obligation for all women is to cover their heads with a dupatta. I found this one quite worth the mention as it reflects highly on the culture. It is something that was once traditionally followed by all Catholics, but seems to have lost its value with time and tide.
The mass was in Malayalam. So honestly, every word hit my right ear and smoothly travelled out of the left, leaving no scope for further interpretation. The music was classical, and because it was my first time, I probably could not appreciate it either. 
As minutes drew by, I realised that I had been sitting through the longest mass (over two hours) ever, without understanding a word. I was terribly bored. While walking out of the church I also grumbled to my best friend for bringing me here because this was not “my-kind-of-Christmas.”
Little did I realise that this was but, just another Christmasy feeling…


3 thoughts on “Another Christmasy feeling…

  1. I missed feeling all this. And with this post you took me through it all. Love the way you've simply brought to fore the starkly contrasting ways of celebrating Christmas in your part of the world and that of Kerala's 🙂


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