Christmas in Kerala has always been a special occasion for all Keralites who celebrate every festival with fervour and zeal irrespective of their castes or creed. For most Malayalees, Christmas is not all about cookies, carols, cakes and wine but well cherished moments of family holidays and tours. Probably Malayalees have evolved to be one of the most touring populace in India these days, in a notable shift of habits of the yore . With a larger disposable income in hand and an urge to live life King size, Keralites make use of their holidays to the most.
However , the raging dam controversy , which has unleashed many violent incidents and unsavoury road blockades and political gimmicks on either side of the Kerala and Tamilnadu borders, has created a smoke screen of mistrust and fear. As there had been isolated instances of stone pelting on the Kerala vehicles crossing the Tamil Nadu border and vice versa, people are not willing to take risk. This could mean that most of them would be forced to put off their holidays till the murky Mullaperiyar dam situation is brought under control. Considering the fact that even private vehicles are not spared by the miscreants, holiday makers are virtually grounded without any options to move out of their cities.
In cities like Cochin ,the revelers will have late night party options, dance , special dinners and festivities apart from the elaborate ritual of downing a heady dose of liquor, which remains the most popular party activity in Kerala. On the occasion of Christmas, the festival of compassion and love , let us set aside the differences and work towards a feasible option to solve this nagging dam controversy, which if left unattended will have a spate of long term repercussions on either side. Let us welcome the New Year of 2012 with smile and peace by celebrating brotherhood and empathy!
For further Reading : A compilation of Christmas and New Year articles
Kerala will be joining the rest of the world in celebrating yet another New Year in a few hours from now. Apart from festivities, midnight parties and revelry, New Year is also a time to run through your mind and to make a few New year resolutions that would help you start afresh and to kick start 2011 with confidence.
Kerala too need to have a set of new year resolutions to ensure a quality change in the life of its people and to launch itself into a higher and better position by next year this time.
Some of the handy New Year resolutions could be-
* Chuck out the drinking habits: Keralites are infamous for their boozing habits and are one of the biggest consumers of spirits. This not only leaves them penny less, diseased and unhappy but also will play havoc in the social life as it can be a serious law and order situation if left unchecked.
*Don’t litter: Kerala lags behind in social awareness and community living etiquette. It has a dubious reputation of having one of the poorest civic sense ratings in spite of being one of the most progressive and literate societies. Though most of the families live in plush apartments and palatial houses in well kept interiors, they forget the basics of cleanliness once they step out on to the roads. You can see many people throwing plastic bags full of trash and garbage into public roads and rivers in the darkness of the night. Most of them do it in style by dropping it in their swanky cars or bikes.
*Treat women with respect: Kerala has one of the highest sexual assaults and crimes against women. Anti social elements who find pleasure in intimidating and teasing women are always on the prowl. Dowry deaths and child abuse are also common. Though women in Kerala are better placed than their counterparts in other parts of India, God’s own country indeed has a long way to go to make sure that every woman feels safe on the roads of Kochi.
*Tackle the menace of corruption : Rampant corruption, nepotism and political dirty games have become a bane in Kerala. Corruption has spread its poisonous tentacles in all the sections of the society and things have come to a stage where nothing is possible in Kerala without greasing the palm of the officials. The law breaking citizens often find it a handy detour to attain their objectives exploiting the various loop holes in our laws.
The list can go on and on. However first, let’s all make a small step together to ensure a change for the better. ‘God’s own Country’ cant never be a misnomer and it is our duty as responsible citizens to live up to this well acclaimed name!
Hey, am not trying to frighten you with a ‘mantra’ or something. Moreover the ‘abracadabra’ kind of thing doesnt work these days, many of my friends say.
These are just some words is Malayalam, which mean, “Hey, don’t give us change (read coins), give us notes”; and it has got something to do with New Year too. Hence the desire to share it with you all.
I had heard from friends that Kochiites celebrate New Year’s Eve in all grandeur and style.But I didn’t feel like joining any of these grand New Year Eve celebrations. In fact, I never ever had anything to do with those celebrations. I prefer to celebrate it all in peace, at home and among my near and dear ones.
So, at around 9.30 pm yesterday night, I was riding my bike to my house. As I was approaching my house, situated in the city suburbs, but with a semi-urban kind of culture, I came face to face with a group of teenagers singing songs, led by (oh no!) yet another Santa. Santa, and New Year!! Was a bit confused…but then I told myself that when it comes to celebrating, maybe it doesn’t matter.
But then on, it was Santa gangs one after the other. I met as many as five Santa gangs in one kilometre, most of them comprising of teenagers. At one place, I saw about 5 or 6 teenager guys walking up to a medical store that was beginning to close shutters, and standing in front of the counter and the very next minute breaking out into a loud ‘Jingle Jingle bells…’ with the accompaniment of some very fast dance steps, sort of bizzare ones indeed.
Hey, what do I hear. Something in Malayalam?! I prick my hears and there the young chaps are, singing, “Chillara venda Chillara Venda note edu Chettayi…”, in between the ‘Jingle Bells..” song, in the same tune. They were in fact telling the people in the medical store to give them notes and not coins.
Felt like laughing aloud, but didn’t, because that would attract their attention and their next target would be me. So I silently left the scene, wondering how money-minded even our kids have become these days.
The last ‘Santa gang’ that I came across before finally reaching home had the Santa dressed in a black pants and a red churidar top (these guys even beat those Santas in the nighties about whom I had mentioned in my earlier post) and with a plastic mask on his face.
Kochi is simply marvellous!Unpredictable!! Crazy!!!
Anyway, here’s a Happy New Year wish to everyone from the Karmakerala Kerala team…..
Christmas and New Year celebrations are about traditions, fun and merriment. But in the ‘God’s own country’ of Kerala, New Year is more about a heady dose of liquor than anything else. Celebration or mourning Malayaless have endorsed liquor as their best companion. It is paradoxical to note that Kerala, which takes credit for being the most literate State in India also tops the list of the highest per capita liquor consumption in the country. The state-owned Kerala State Beverages Corporation Ltd, the sole distributor of IMFL ( Indian Made Foreign Liquor) records an all time high in its sales during Onam, Christmas and New Year.
This year for Christmas, Chalakudi, a nondescript town in Trichur District had the dubious distinction of having the highest per capita liquor consumption in the country when its locals blew up a staggering 18.70 lakhs on this dark intoxicating liquid while the total sales during Christmas recorded an all time high of 55.08 Crores! Every season the IMFL sales are breaking their own record and that too during one of the worst economical recessions that is currently on! With New year only a few hours away, the coffers of the Beverages Corporation is expected to see yet another surge this weekend!
The sale of foreign liquor in Kerala is channelled through 300 beverages outlets and around 500 bars. The actual sale of foreign liquor could be much higher than the available figures as the spirits gulped down in bars do not figure in this account. It is interesting to note that Malayaless have a penchant for Rum, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the total sale. Brandy and beer come in the next two slots. Whisky does not feature in the favorite list of beverages of Malayalees unlike in the other parts of the world, where it is one of the most popular spirits. So , Kerala is all set to be in high ‘spirits’ literally this festive season. Who cares whether Alcohol consumption is injurious to health or not as long as it brings a few smiles to the user and a few quick bucks to the Government coffers!
With Christmas and New Year round the corner, the first visible clues of the impending celebrations have already started dropping in. The city and its enthusiastic community is gearing themselves to soak up the fun and gaiety. Shopping festivals, arts and craft fairs, food festivals and cake decoration competitions are the latest attractions in the event calender of Kochi.
The shimmering lights bathing the streets, Christmas trees decorated with colorful add-ons and twinkling Xmas stars- everything speaks for the festive mood in the air . Markets hum with avid shoppers who shop till they drop rummaging through the countless stores that offer the latest clothes, tree decorations, cakes, wine and fire crackers.
While people make a beeline in the Spanish food fest and the steak house festivals currently on in the city, I was surprised at the lack of interest shown to the Aids prevention day campaign ( Dec 2) and the International day for disabled persons ( Dec 3), which passed off as low key affairs. While the district administration blames it on the low budget allocation, the lay man quips that they prefer fun and entertainment rather than these complex social issues, which they feel is best left to the administration to tackle. As the blame game continues, Kochi is all set to welcome yet another New year with new hopes and aspirations.
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.
Cochin, January 1
The land of culture and tradition seemed to be in a vibrant mood yesterday fully decked up to give a rousing welcome to ‘2008’. The commercial hub of Kerala, Cochin was shining like a star in the night with shops, buildings, homes all illuminated with coloured lights all making the place more pretty. The city was eagerly waiting for the moment to welcome the ‘New Year’ with a bang.
It was Fort Cochin which was the centre of attraction with buzz flowing all-over the place. There was a festive like atmosphere with massive crowd and lots of attraction to look at. From crowded streets, to busy shops, and plenty of enjoyment, this Cochin Carnival attracted a huge number of people and even tourist from all over the world to be a part of this celebration. After reaching there one can’t stop them from getting into the thick of action with a head-banging music giving the breeze a pleasant feel. Youths were dancing vibrantly on the tracks played there, while many families seemed enjoying the perfect new year outing in this highly infective place.
Apart from this Cochin Carnival, people were busy trying out all options to keep the celebration in full swing. Most of the restaurants and hotels were packed with party-seekers enjoying the night. The city was looking completely drenched in the party fever, with young-ones, elders all adding great energy to the new year celebration. As the moment of glory came, all welcomed 2008 with happiness and joy. People busted crackers and greeted each other and welcomed the year 2008 with great enthusiasm. The bustling city of Cochin was rocking last night in all its corners welcoming the New Year.