Friday, December 20, 2013

THe Festival Season

Most people put the Christian population in Kerala at about 12%.  Mysteriously, though, that number appears to be more accurately around 90% when it comes time to deck the halls.  Christmas decorations are everywhere, and it was rather shocking at first, but then I settled in and enjoyed the parade.  The most prominent decoration, which I failed to get a good picture of yet, is a great collection of various giant stars, which are hung on string in front of churches and businesses.  They are very cool, and I now have my own collection.  What I don't have is string, and even my resourceful driver couldn't find any.  Oh well, it's now on the list with some other things to buy when back in America.  
The pictures below show a finale show closing an International Film Festival here, and it featured about 200 men in long skirts playing drums or horns very loudly.  It was across the street, so we decided to check it out, and it was great fun.  However, we're taking ear plugs to any future event, as the volumes were for the next state, I believe.
Next is a picture of some very sparkly "Christmas Saris" featured in a local department store.  The photo does not do justice to the thousands of sequins, pearls, and other type of bauble on these.  They look beautiful on the women with their gorgeous hair and skin, but they have got to be heavy, too.

The next 2 photos are of an annual Christmas Bazaar in Trivandrum run by a family of women who are Christian and who run a very delicious bakery during the rest of the year.  They filled the basement of a church with baked goods galore, handmade cards, textiles, and all manner of pickled delicacies, etc.  There  were around 50 or 60 cakes, most of which are fruit cakes, a British tradition, and a culinary mistake to my mind,  The decorations on the frosting were very fine, though. It reminded me of the Christmas bake sales at the church where I grew up. The highlight of those sales was always the Italian cookies the priests' sisters made.  They sold them in a multi-layered box and made several different kinds which were beautiful and tasted heavenly. I still associate the smell of anise with opening that box of cookies each Christmas and trying to guess which ones I would like.
Finally, I was looking for some fresh ginger powder to take to Ethiopia in case we want to baked some gingerbread.  I wanted my readers to see just how many spices there are in this place where Columbus and others were searching for spices.  They would have been very impressed with the 3 aisles of spices I had to search through to find some ginger.
So Christmas is coming to people everywhere here in Kerala, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, religion seems to be of little consequence.  It's festive and fun for everyone, so why not enjoy it, as my Muslim friend said?  Indeed.  Even our Hindu driver got into the spirit. I had given him a card with a bonus early on Thursday, and when we got  back from a walk in the park that afternoon, there he was at our door, waiting for us with a large envelope and larger bag.  Two Cards, one for the New year and one for Christmas, featuring Mary, who is very popular here with Muslims as well, go figure.  He also had several snacks from my favorite chips store wrapped in a bag, and some of them are making the trip to Ethiopia with us to share on Christmas.  I think we need more Christmases throughout the year, a time to stop regular routines and remember friends and families, shop for gifts, make fun treats, and plan get togethers. Why hasn't someone arranged a mid-year Christmas yet? I would vote for it

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