Saturday, December 10, 2016

Travel around Calcutta to Celebrate Christmas

Since my first trip to Kolkata, my advent always starts the same. I am awakened by the question of whether in the society in which we live, immersed in the consumer vortex, Christmas still makes sense. In Calcutta, Christmas is synonymous with the celebration of the winter solstice. We do not live in a society for which Christmas means something. So am I going to Calcutta to spend Christmas?

Calcutta is also known for its Christmas celebrations. Known as Bada din, or the long day, Christmas is celebrated in Kolkata by one and all with western traditions but adapted to the local culture and foreign traditions blended together. If you want to enjoy a Bada Din that is the Christmas and a different New Year a trip to Kolkata is beautiful during this time.

Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, is not usually on the itinerary for tourists who visit India and passes through more popular Delhi, Rajasthan and the Taj Mahal. But December is one of the best months to visit here. The city seems newly cleaned in December, after six months of monsoon and the humidity give way to a dryer and fresher air. Locals begin to take out their wool socks and shawls when the temperature at night falls below 15 degrees Celsius.

Here people take the celebration of Christmas very seriously, who each year celebrate the nativity of Jesus. On my trip to Kolkata I notice that even in the outskirts of Kolkata everything is filled with an atmosphere of colors and lights.

I stroll through the crowded Chowringhee, Calcutta's main boulevard. I also go christmas shopping at New Market, a vestige of British days where you can still look for bargains. While we are there, we eat special christmas cakes at Nahoum's, a former Jewish bakery. It is especially famous for its fruit cakes during the Christmas season, a favorite for Jews and non-Jews alike. At night, I turn onto Park Street, full of restaurants and nightclubs. During the holidays, Park Street competes with the best with its light show, winter markets and festivities. Red and green decorations prevail in the shops and homes.

The churches organize different activities such as masses celebrated at midnight on December 24. It has a duration of about one hour, but those that take place here last from 2 to 3 hours. I find besides Christians, and people from other communities offering prayers and singing Christmas carols at Midnight Mass in the churches. During this time prayers for peace are prayed, dramatizations are performed and sung.

After the mass, the devotees carry out festivals through the main streets. Everything is very simple full of color, music and above all, a lot of joy. The days before Christmas shops and houses take great care to decorate their houses. It is customary to place the traditional Christmas tree and decorate it. In the villages the people adorn the mango and banana trees. They also use lamps that is part of everything you can live in your trip to Kolkata at Christmas and New Year.



During the Christmas festivities people celebrate with parades. Everyone look forward to the arrival of Santa Claus. Here this friendly and good-natured character is known as Christmas Baba. Here he usually does not arrive in a sleigh or on horseback. He does it in the local style and can surprise arriving in a rickshaw usually decorated with Christmas motifs. The Christmas Baba arrives to distribute sweets and toys to all children.

As we can see, Kolkata does not escape from the festive, happy, enlightened and festive atmosphere that Christmas and New Year. People wear new clothes, light their houses, sing Christmas carols in the streets. Christmas is celebrated in a big way but with a marked style of the place. The gifts are given and received. Families gather to share a delicious dinner with traditional pudding or confection made with coconut and rice flour. These delicious desserts are also given to family and friends at this time. The Calcuttans celebrate the occasion either at home, go to the restaurant or visit the Victoria Memorial or the Calcutta Zoo.

The city of joy becomes brighter and more alive during the Christmas season. The aroma of fruit cake and pastries fill the air and markets become crowded. Although, Christmas is not one of the main celebrations in Kolkata, the city has a bit of affection attached to it. Park Street is a place where the festive atmosphere is extravagant. And in all this I get lost in the lights, sound and music of Kolkata.

I think. I think and think one more time. I think about what I see in Calcutta. There is that simple life, with limited luxury, comforts. It is so close to reality, in which it lives each moment.