In Mangaluru-the ‘Rome of the East, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Mangaluru: “It’s already beginning to look a lot like Christmas; Soon the bells will start, And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing, Right within your heart”.- These are lyrics from the 1951 classic Christmas song by Meredith Wilson. Yes, Christmas is almost here, and in less than TWO days the World’s Biggest and Merriest Feast “CHRISTMAS” is celebrated by people all over the world, including Mangaluru known as the “Rome of the East”! And I am excited about it! This ought to mean that by the time it comes, we should all be so fed up, all we want to do is sleep! And yet, I believe there is something inside every one of us, no matter how old we are, whether we have young children in our families or not, that goes ‘ahhhhh’ when we think of Christmas. Even if you don’t help out at your Church in the Christmas preparations, there are still plenty of things to do.
When we get closer to the end of December, there’s no question your Christmas spirit may already be worn a little thin. Besides the organizing and shopping and running around in time for December 25, it’s also the end of a heck of a long year and you’re undoubtedly in need of a respite. Yes, it’s already beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mangaluru, and the City is getting all geared for the big Christmas celebrations, with shops stocked up with Christmas decorations, twinkling Christmas stars, artificial Christmas trees; and bakeries getting ready with their kuswars and cakes. And Christians, including Catholics, are doing their last-minute shopping, buying the required gifts, kuswar, cakes and Christmas decorations.
Santa hats are being sold at signals and plum cakes sit pretty in bakery aisles —Christmas is here! Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is not restricted to a particular religion; in cosmopolitan Mangaluru, we all ring in the festivities with equal gusto. The city is lit up in cherry reds, greens, blues and yellows. Team Mangalorean looks at ways in which Mangalureans celebrate Christmas…One look at Mangaluru’s most popular shopping spot (Hampankatta- Market Road) and you know that the festivities are here- this stretch of road/junction is at its glorious best this time of the year, much to the shoppers’ delight. Walking down Hampankatta/Market Rd under the lights is a ritual for many city folks. Even though certain parts of the City are returned due to road construction work, Christians are still wading through the construction mess to reach their favourite shops for Christmas shopping. Thanks to Mangaluru Smart City Ltd and Mangaluru City Corporation for putting the holiday season revellers inconveniences.
Bryan Vas of Vas and Son, Bendore says that this year the sales have been pretty good, since people want to celebrate and have some fun, after getting fed up with the boring days of lockdown/pandemic. Ullas Rasquinha of Jerosa Company says that this year people are excited and eagerly waiting to celebrate Christmas, post-pandemic and those hectic days of lockdown, and there is enthusiasm in the people to celebrate Christmas. “We are out of stock of Christmas trees at the moment”. John and Ms Laveena Monteiro of Milagres Company said that business is good in the evening since people are avoiding the treacherous heat during the afternoon. ” Sales could have been better, but we are happy with our clientele as of now. Hoping to get better in the next two days” added Monteiro’s.
Mrs Juliana and Carol Crasta of Crasta Bakery in Kankanady say that sales have been okay until now, but not like in the past years when people wanted to celebrate Christmas by sharing Kuswar and cakes-now it has become more commercialized. “I hope the sales will pick up in the next two days since we have fresh Christmas items in the store” she added. Yet another booth set up near Shivabagh Cafe in Kadri, the owner says that the sales have been pretty good so far, but could have been better, since once again due to the fear of Covid news. “But nice to see that people are out and are determined to celebrate Christmas amidst the pandemic,” he said
Christmas is a time to eat, drink and be merry, and what better place to stock up on Christmas goodies than in the city’s most iconic bakeries? Many new bakery outlets have made their way into the city, but nothing can beat age-old bakeries like Vas and Son (Bakery)-Bendore managed by Bryan Vas. Bakers at Vas Bakery Bendoor have been working round the clock preparing and giving the final touches to the variety of Christmas cakes, numbered in hundreds. Jewellery shops and up-class hotels have already erected their Christmas trees and decorated their premises. Staff at Jerosa company are working hard to help customers buy the required decorations, Christmas trees etc; Chefs at popular hotels in the City, including Taj Gateway/Vivanta, are getting ready to serve the customers the Christmas Turkey specials, Christmas Brunch and the Mega Buffet, Churches are getting ready for the Christmas programme/mass and the choir groups are practising thorough on the Christmas carols.
Mangaloreans living in the Gulf have already started coming down for the holidays, to spend time with their loved ones, since they missed them due to the pandemic. Brightly lit Christmas trees, wreaths, holly, baubles, tinsel, fairy lights and maybe even a mistletoe? If you are looking for these decorations a couple of days before Christmas, then head down to Jerosa Company or Milagres Shop, if you still haven’t put up your Christmas tree or decorated your home- better late than never, you can still do it! Also during Christmas, you can spread cheer through charity- Spread joy by making others smile. You can sing carols or share a Christmas meal with the elderly at an old-age home or with children at one of the many orphanages in the city.
One Christmas tradition that few miss is the midnight mass. For years, Mangalureans have been heralding Christmas Eve Mass at St Aloysius Chapel, Fatima Retreat House, Milagres Church, Rosario Cathedral, and Infant Jesus Church among many others. After being a little Holy, then it’s time to celebrate. Let’s get in the mood for Christmas. Let’s get in the groove of Christmas – I can’t wait. It’s almost Christmas (A time so dear) So much fun to wake up on Christmas, and spread love and cheer. Let’s all gather around, Christmas is getting near, and it’s that time when love is in the air. We all had to wait through the year for this time to be here because it’s that time when everyone cares. Positive energy as we laugh cheerfully having fun with family and friends (come on let’s get into it) Hang lights on the Christmas tree, hang a Santa Claus, decorate your place, and let the Christmas spirit begin.
Christmas can also be a time when we engage with the God that invented it…It can be a time when we get all tingly inside, and traditional, and want nothing more than carols and candles, decorated Christmas trees and Kuswar/cakes, and Mary and Joseph and Jesus and a manger. Yes, now the time is getting near…its less than one day before Christmas eve Mass, and two days before Christmas Day. I wonder when you are reading this how far the 25th Dec is? Not long, to get prepared, get ready, get excited, and get remember WHO it is all really about. Merry Christmas to every one of you well in advance. Ho..ho..ho..ho.. I’ll end my column here-for It’s time for me to go for some last-minute bargain shopping…..