Calendar of Events at various Anglo Indian Centres around INDIA
The All India Anglo-Indian Association
Anglo-Indian Association, Danapur, Patna
Anglo Indians of Jharkhand and some neighbouring parts of Orissa, Bihar & West Bengal
All India Anglo Indian Association for the states of Bihar and Orissa
The Anglo-Indian Association of Southern India, 1/2, Riverside Road, Egmore, Chennai - 600 008
All Kerala Anglo-Indian Association
Anglo-Indians having a gala time at the 'Unity Ball' , as reported by the HINDU newspaper on Monday, Dec 30, 2002.
--Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam
A happy togetherness at Yuletide . For the Anglo-Indian community Yuletide is a time for happy togetherness. PRATIMA ASHER, writing for the HINDU newspaper on 23/12/2002, finds that merriment; solemnity and tradition all have a place in their celebrations
MAUREEN BIVERIA of Fort Cochin describes the spirit of Christmas in a nutshell. It is, she states, a time for hugs and kisses and smiles and gifts and tears and a recalling `of memories that have gone with the wind'. It is also a time for hope and zest.
For the Anglo-Indian community of Fort Cochin of which she is a part, Christmas is still tinged with an old world charm and marked by many enduring traditions inherited from Europe, to which the Anglo-Indians have given their own colour.
With the coming of Advent, says Mr. Ivan D'Costa, President of the All India Anglo-Indian Association here, the spirit of Christmas, begins to slowly seep in as the `church prepares for the Yuletide' and with it the members of his community get on with their individual efforts to celebrate the season.
Little shops in Fort Cochin announce the arrival of the Christmas with tinsel streamers and decorations such as bells and Santa masks, stars and artificial pine fir artefacts, sprinkled with touches of white plastic or paper snow, all to be hung on the X'mas tree which along with the crib forms the centrepiece in many Anglo-Indian homes.
For the Anglo-Indians, preparations for the big day begin almost a month in advance with the making of the special plum cake and the brewing of home made wines, which are typical of the community. Maureen Biveira states that these are generally made of grape, banana, carrot and beetroot. A special ginger ale or OT is also brewed as an appetiser. The ingredients of the plum cake such as the raisins, nuts and orange peel are soaked in rum marking the onset of the grand culinary preparations that are the special highlights of an Anglo-Indian Christmas.
Christmas Eve in an Anglo-Indian household is marked with a custom known as the `concata' (prounounced consata) which is of Portuguese origin. This consists of sending beautifully decorated trays laden with special goodies to near and dear ones. The goodies include the traditional Anglo-Indian Christmas sweets such as `kal-kals', made of American flour, eggs and coated with sugar, `matrimony', made with cashew nuts, coconut and sugar, rose cookies, bread pudding and other festive items.
At midnight, the families dressed in their best, often formal clothes go to church for the midnight mass, which for many Anglo-Indians here is in English or even Latin and where the mood is enhanced by the choir performing perennial Christmas favourites such as `Silent Night', `Come all ye faithful,' and `We three kings of Orient are.' These are also sung when groups of friends go around homes and streets singing well-known carols, a few days before Christmas. This kind of serenading is typically Iberian says Mr. D'Costa who remembers with great nostalgia the melodies of John McCormick, the Andrew Sisters, Perry Como, Pat Boone and Jim Reeves which marked Christmas gatherings in Anglo-Indian homes in Fort Cochin.
" Immediately after mass," says Mrs. Biveira, "the family returns home, recites a special prayer, cuts the Christmas cake and partakes in toasting the home made wine. In some families gifts that have been placed under the tree are opened after this, while others prefer to wait till Christmas morning".
Christmas day is celebrated with feasting and socialising on a large scale again with traditional meals laid out by folks in gaily decorated homes where Mr. D'Costa says, green and red predominate. "Lunch is a grand affair with duck roast," adds Ms. Biveira, "or turkey roast for those who can afford it. Pork preparations with mustard, coconut and as ball curries, and a variety of Anglo-Indian stews ranging from brown to dumpling stew are made".
Dinner is also special with a menu consisting of cutlets, masala chops, vindaloo, beef, potato chops accompanied with dinner rolls, home made bread and the wine. Generally celebrations are conducted with the whole family congregating at the home of their parents and often each guest contributes to the feast by bringing a dish each.
There are sports, games and music to dance to. The elders perform traditional dances like the Waltz, Jive, Tango or even a round of cha-cha, while the youngsters try out the modern versions.
The Anglo-Indian Associations often have an X'mas Ball where the community gathers for shared festivities. This is true both of the All India Anglo-Indian Association as well as the All Kerala Anglo-Indian Association, which are the two predominant Anglo-Indian Associations here.
The two bodies have different representatives but there is no basic difference in our customs, especially during Christmas, says Ms. Charmaine Fernandez, wife of the former president of the All Kerala Anglo-Indian Association. Most Anglo-Indians admit that the existing rift is based mainly on misunderstandings and political realities.
But they often go for each other's functions, she adds. Anglo-Indians everywhere, regardless of their associations share the underlying spirit of Christmas with equal zest and enthusiasm.
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