During the time of Christmas the city of Joy is painted with a tremendous colorful picture. Each and every nook and corner of the city is decorated with colorful rice lights, streamers, silver glitters, stars, bells, Christmas trees and what not? The chiming bells as well as the joyous colors fill the environment of Kolkata with a beautiful yet indefinable spirit of celebrating the birth of Christ, on the glowing Christmas night. Credit goes to the British legacy of Kolkata, where, along with the enthusiasm of Durga Puja, festivals like Eid, Diwali, Chhat Puja, Christmas, and New Year are also celebrated by the people with equal zeal. It is needless to say that, in spite of being the capital festival of the Christianity, the native people of the city of joy, truly hold their reputation by celebrating the birth of baby Jesus with equal joy. People from all cast, creed and other sects of religions join hands together to rejoice the appearance of the immortal Lord on the mortal Earth.
Photo by Soumyaroop
A brief idea about the spirit of Christmas in Kolkata
Park Street, which is considered as a mythic boulevard of the city, and also the area of New Market which was established in the year 1903 by Sir Stuart Hogg, both are decorated with a variety of colorful decorations to celebrate the joy of Christmas. You will definitely be surprised to know that ten to twelve days prior, one can exhale the spirit of joy of the Christmas, when both of these areas are illuminated by lightings, decors, streamers and giant written messages. All of the signs cumulatively enthrall the people with a vigorous sense of the festivity which remains till the advent of the New Year. At New Market and Park Street, children can be seen roaming around in joy wearing a red Santa hat, having encounters with their favorite Santa Claus who can also be found in hundreds at every city streets and even malls of the city. Both old and young have fun shaking hands with the pseudo Santas, receiving gifts from them, talking to them, cracking jokes and soaking themselves up in the spirit of Christmas.
The joyous glee also soaks the elders up, and they get lost in the nostalgia of their childhood, where they roamed at these places with their parents. Some things never change with time, and in the case of Kolkata, it is the celebration of Christmas, that remains the same with time. The Revellars are witnessed to cast a true festive spell at the discotheques, bars, night clubs and restaurants, where the youth crowd are found to be having a good festive time with their own ‘gang’ of friends. Christmas is for all, and that is evidently witnessed in Kolkata during the holy festive time of the birth of Jesus. Old churches like Armenian, St. John’s, St. Paul’s Cathedral and many other temples of Christianity are decked up like dolls for the people who visit the places at the time of midnight to sing the glory of the holy baby’s arrival. Even non-Christian people can be witnessed to be lighting candles inside and outside the premises of the churches, and even on the crafted cribs of the Baby Jesus. It is needless to say, that the feeling of visiting these cribs gives a very special feeling to the onlooker.
Photo by sankarshan
Kolkata Christmas as the British Heritage
The era of India’s colonization might have brought in many events of distress over the country, but it cannot be denied that the colonial rulers brought in along with them many cultural gifts which enriched the secular face of India. The credit of India’s reputation of being the largest secular country of the world, goes to them. During the time of this holy festival, and also other festivals, one can witness the inhabitants of Kolkata riding with the waves of gleeful spirits, regardless of the religion or caste they belong to. Since the 1800 AD to the 1911 AD, Kolkata remained as the prestigious capital of the British Empire, or more formally, The East India Company. A tour in this city, even during a normal day, can give the traveller a taste of the European culture in the form of its heritage buildings painted in red, with green windows, standing high up to the horizon. Thanks to this implementation of the mode de vie and European culture by the British, Kolkata was bestowed with establishments like Victoria Memorial, Fort William, St. Paul’s Cathedral Church and many more Christian heritage sites.
The Mother House, which is at AJC Bose Road is considered to be the headquarter of the esteemed NGO Missionaries of Charity, which was formed by Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Saint Mother Teresa. During Christmas Day, people can be found visiting the Mother house for feeding the distressed Children who get their own taste of Christmas in the most warm way filled with love and joy. Not only the members of the community of the Anglo-Indians, but also people belonging to the other religions deck themselves up and turn up at various churches to attend the midnight mass and also to sing the carols welcoming the holy spirit on Earth. After the mass is over, the people greet each other with hugs, smiles, handshakes, cakes, cookies, pastries, wines and the most important of all, love. With the striking of the midnight hours, the environment of Kolkata lits up musically with the sound of bell and the people can be heard singing merrily with candles in their hand.
The celebrations of the Christian communities of Kolkata
Areas like Ripon Street, Sudder Street and even Bow Barracks, where 90% of the entire population comprises of Anglo-Indian people, celebrate Christmas in their own way. During this time, they create a separate world of their own where rum is the staple ingredient of their food, as well as their rejoice. A short visit to these places will give you an original taste of how Christmas means to the people residing in this otherwise neglected locality of Kolkata.
Featured Photo by Soumyaroop