Kerala is fast catching up the fancy of prospective couples all over the world as a trendy overseas wedding destination. Many couples who come down to Keralaprefer to have an exceptional Kerala wedding where the bride and groom don the Kerala attire and dress up like any other Kerala couple. However this Jewish wedding that took place on Sunday belonged to a different genre altogether because the groom belonged to the Jewish community of Kerala.
At present only around 48 Jews remain in Kochi as the majority of them have migrated to their distant homeland after India’s independence. The Jews who had originally settled in the ancient port of Cranganore, were forced to flee to escape the Portuguese onslaught during the 14th century. It was then the Cochin Maharaja offered land in Mattancherry, where they constructed a synagogue in 1568.
This Jewish wedding brought back nostalgic memories for many Cochinites as the city woke up on Sunday to a long cherished Jewish wedding, which took place after almost two decades. In the Paradesi Synagogue in the old Jewish town in Mattancherry, Solomon and Susan were united in marriage on Sunday at 5.30 p.m. Only a select gathering of guests were allowed to witness this wedding, which was held behind closed doors amidst very tight security in the wake of the recent terror strikes in the Jewish installations in Mumbai.
The marriage was conducted as per the Jewish customs. Nine candles to denote the ninth day of the Jewish Hanukkah festival were lit and the blessing in Aramaic was read out, which is something exceptional to Kochi Jews. The guests applauded when the groom slipped the wine-soaked wedding ring on the bride’s finger, which was followed by the unique ritual of breaking a wineglass, which is followed by only Jews in Kerala to denote the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. This wedding was also different from other Jewish weddings in that it was the chief warden , Samuel Hallegua, who read out the seven blessings in Hebrew and not the rabbi.
It goes without saying that beaches, nature, spice hills and backwater cruises come naturally to you as soon as you think of a typical Kerala holiday. However, Kerala is all set to surprise you by springing up a new holiday idea, which is sure to pop up literally in very Kerala itinerary in the coming days.
The hydel reservoirs of Kerala, some of which dating back to a century or more are becoming a big draw for tourists. The state tourist department is going whole hog to tap this novel holiday theme by providing comfortable accommodation facilities at more dam sites. Apart from putting up new buildings, the existing inspection bungalows and tourist Bungalows will be given a facelift to cater to the burgeoning accommodation needs of the tourists.
Hydel tourism in Kerala was flagged off over eight years ago at Munnar and Wayanad. During this period, it has grown from a modest beginning to a full fledged tourist option that draws almost one million visitors annually. Eight sites including the ‘Sun Moon Valley’ at Mattupetty, ‘Trout Lagoon,’ Kundala, Echo-Point and Hydel Park, Munnar, Kakkayam, Banasurasagar and Lower Meenmutty will be included under the hydel tourism plan, with more sites including Anayirankal on the anvil in the subsequent plans.
Apart from a fleet of boats ranging from the slow moving pontoon boats to high speed boats, the ‘Kashmiri ‘shikkaras’ will be floated in the placid waters of Kundala to recreate a Dal Lake cruise magic in Kerala. Add to it the big plus of the opening of the Idukki arch dam during the holiday season from December 20 to January five, which is sure to gloss off your holiday in Kerala, this season.
Come December and the Christmas celebration will be very much in the air in Kerala ; shimmering lights bathing the streets, Christmas trees decorated with colorful add-ons and twinkling Xmas stars, the aroma of freshly baked ginger cakes and cookies wafting through the innumerable chimneys and a deluge of friends and relatives who make a goodwill visit to their brethren- everything speaks for Christmas. Markets hum with avid Xmas shoppers who shop till they drop rummaging through the countless stores that offer the latest clothes, tree decorations, cakes, wine and fire crackers,
The season’s spirit reaches its crescendo as the D day draws in, when the streets will be crowded with people on their way to attend the midnight mass or to hobnob at the various shopping malls to get a feel of the pulse of the festivities. The best part of Christmas is that it falls in the winter season when the nature is at its best to notch up the partying mood to feverish pitch.
The mere mention of Christmas is enough to summon the image of the famous icon of Santa Claus in snow white beard and red attire, Christmas carols and creamy rich cakes! Wayside shopping malls will be graced by life size Santa while the boisterous kids make a few fast bucks by going from door to door , singing carols and beating drums with the Santa in bright red attire stealing the show. Nonetheless in the break neck speed of today’s high technology world, Christmas traditions are gradually being lost. But don’t you think that the traditional Christmas with all the merriment and grandeur of the old days was the perfect time to slow things down and to plunge into the party mood? It’s a time for a family get together or a well deserved vacation for many.
People usher in the Christmas spirit by decorating the Christmas tree. The traditional crib of the Jesus with the wax or glass models of the three kings and the other characters forming an inevitable part of the decorations. Not forgetting the Christmas music and lip smacking eggnog that would ensure everyone the right spirit. No Christmas is complete without a grand feast. Turkeys, a variety of meat preparations, soups, cookies, pies, and hot cider are all staples for a heady Christmas celebration.
Then there is always the Santa Claus to hand over the Xmas presents for everyone in the family. The Christmas evening offers the best possible options; you can either choose a quiet evening in the company of your dear and near ones or set out on a holiday to some holiday spot. Remember, the bottom line of all festivities is to ensure fun, frolic and merriment.
Kerala is decking up to celebrate yet another Christmas and New year with gaiety and religious fervour. Though the global meltdown has played spoil sport, the overall milieu is upbeat and festive. People are picking up Christmas trees , lights, stars and other paraphernalia from road side vendors and Chinese shops to save that extra penny.
The absence of discount offers in electronics and garment sectors has dampened the shopping frenzy of Keralites, who shop big during the festival season to make good use of the discount offers and freebies on offer. Most of the shop keepers are playing their cards safely without going overboard with eye popping offers and frills unlike in the past.
Ready to eat Christmas feasts and parties are likely to be the order of the day with caterers luring the potential customers and housewives by catchy slogans and advertisements, which entice them to keep off from the kitchen heat on this D- day. Take home parcels are huge hits as these relieve the ladies of the house from the dreary and elaborate cooking sessions.
Kids are always kids, global recession or not! Parents will have a tough time convincing them to shop light this festive season. Crackers, cakes and cookies top the shopping list of kids and these too fall in the high price bracket. However, the customary travel plans and holiday ideas that go hand in hand with festival season remain unchanged as fuel prices have plummeted. Families are making elaborate travel plans to celebrate Christmas and to usher in the New Year this vacation; though a few might choose to spend their time visiting their friends and brethren and spend a tranquil yet happy weekend this year.
In case you live in any big city of Kerala like Kochi or calicut you might have come across these make shift eateries, often functioning under shaded trees near busy inter junctions. By sun set the vendors get ready to start their business, which will extend well past midnight. Bachelors and youth living away from home will make a beeline to savour the piping hot food served in these way side eat outs. Families in cars and mobikes, back from work also stop by and order for parcels, to make sure of a day off from the kitchen chores.
These nondescript ‘thattukadas’ in ramshackle sheds offer an impressive menu including fried beef, chicken and some of the local delicacies like paruppu vada and paratta. Anyone who has sampled the freshly-made thattu dosa or chiratta puttu with the fiery meat curry, well complemented by a cup of frothy, piping hot tea, would vouch for its lingering taste and easy prices. The simple and rustic feel and the personal ambiance is what sets them apart from their bigger counterparts and the city youth forms the target customers of these shops. People returning home after the second show or those stranded in the middle of nowhere by a missed bus will all find these simple eateries a real banker.
However, no one can deny the hard fact that most of the food items are not prepared in a hygienic manner. The cooked items are often displayed open along the dusty roads or leaking drains. Plates and glasses are washed together in the same water and the chances of contamination lurks high in the air. Recycled oil and unhygienic methods of preparation also increases the risk of food poisoning in these outlets. These eateries also offer haven for antisocial elements who plan for a big strike after dusk. However all these facts do not seem to dampen the spirits of the die hard fans of these simple eateries, going by the crowd and the hype of its patrons.