Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 25: Traditional fervour marked Christmas celebrations in Kerala as most Keralites – irrespective of their religion – Wednesday decorated their houses with Christmas stars and trees.
“We Keralites, irrespective of caste creed or religion, celebrate all festivals together, and Christmas is in no way different,” said 90-year-old retired professor Mathew George, who, however, rued that things are not what they were in the ’80s.
“In our days, I don’t recall celebrating a non-Hindu festival, but now before our neighbours – a Christian family – could decorate their home, my kids fixed two stars and a Christmas tree at our house,” said Sajitha Nair, a housewife, here.
“They also wanted pocket money to buy Christmas cakes for their friends,” she added.
Though Christians make up only 22 percent of the state’s 32 million population, the celebrations are widespread with many non-Christians celebrating the festival with the same spirit.
The only difference between Christian and non-Christian revellers here is the visit to churches to attend the Christmas mass.
While the Catholics and the Orthodox denomination adherents reached churches around midnight, Christmas mass began late for the Mar Thoma community around 6 a.m.
And when it came to the Christmas breakfast, even non-Christians made the traditional one.
“No compromise on traditional meal which is the laced appom accompanied by chicken stew, steamed banana, egg curry, cake, wine and of course the beef roast,” said Jaisamma Xavier, who was rushing back home from the church to see that the breakfast was ready on time.
This Christmas, beef lovers had a tough time with cattle’s foot and mouth disease reported across the state and bringing the cattle from neighbouring states also completely banned.
“We just couldn’t take the risk. Since my six grandchildren have come for vacation from various countries, we had decided well in advance that we will not buy beef from market, instead we bought one buffalo, got it inspected by a veterinarian and shared the meat between six families,” said a Christian businessman from Kottayam.
For many families across the state another reason for cheer was the sudden increase in the price of rubber as it went up by more than Rs.25 a kg in the past few days.
Unlike the last year, when rains came down suddenly, this time it was a pleasant Christmas eve.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the last time he celebrated Christmas in Delhi was in 1975. This time with his wife and daughter away in the UAE, he celebrated the festival with his son and the staff at Kerala House in Delhi.
However, Chandy will reach his home town Puthupally in Kottayam district later in the day to celebrate Christmas with his people.
The hotels across the states were offering Christmas lunch and buffet dinners to attract the revellers.
“These days work takes a toll and we have decided that on holidays like Christmas, we will take it easy and rely on hotels as it becomes a welcome break for all of us,” said an IT professional Beena Zachariah.