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An Indian Christmas
A Repeat Visit to the D’souzas in Goa, a Lassi with Lavina tradition!
What can be better than going home for Christmas, especially if home happens to be warm and sunny Goa? Chris and Beverly D’Souza with their young son Luke often visit Goa, their hometown, far away from the cold of New York. Surrounded by extended family and friends, she describes the magic: “There is a lot of excitement in the air and smells of baking and sweet making are everywhere. Homes are decorated, carols fill the air and there is a feeling of freshness and happiness. It is also the wedding season for the Catholics in India and so, besides family reunions, everyone meets at family weddings.”
I first met the D’Souzas when I wrote about the Christmas celebrations of Indian-Christians in 2007. (See related story) I thought it would be great to catch up and see how the family is celebrating this year.
A Typical Indian Christmas
Beverly, who has spent Christmas in Dubai, in New York as well as many in Goa, shares photos of their big Christmas feast in Goa some years back, all served in clay matkas. She maps out a typical Indian Christmas for us, explaining that all Indian Christians celebrate Christmas in a very similar fashion, whether they are Goans, East Indians, Mangaloreans or Anglo-Indians.
She offers a primer of Christmas activities common to all these communities:
- We go for Midnight Mass or for the 8 pm Mass as is more common nowadays.
- Visit family or friends for coffee, cake and wine and some snacks. This is called a Coffee Party. A lot of the traditional sweets are also brought out.
- Next day everyone either meets up again for lunch or for dinner – or lunch is in one person’s house and then, dinner is in another house. This is a very traditional meal and most of the items are repeated every year.
- Everyone loves to go for the Christmas Dances that are organized by each community.
- Families shop for gifts and these are exchanged either after Mid-Night Mass or the next day when they meet. The gift shopping is another experience that just puts you in the mood for the holidays.
- A lot of traditional sweets are made and these are exchanged when we go to visit family and friends. If we cannot make the sweets then, we buy them mainly from someone who makes them with traditional recipes rather than from commercial stores.
- Carol Singing is not as popular in New York as it is in India. Most of the people love to travel back to India or any other part of the world where their main families are located in order to celebrate Christma together.
- Just as Macy’s has a Santa every year, a lot of hotels in India and in the Middle East organized a Christmas Party for the kids, where Santa comes in either a helicopter or a water scooter or on a sledge drawn by horses or in a carriage. And it is a very exciting time for the kids and they each get gifts from Santa again.
Beverly D’Souza On the Traditional Christmas Meal:
STARTERS / APPETIZERS:
Ground Meat and Potato Croquettes
Potato Chops – Ground Meat stuffed in Mashed Potato and fried. (This tradition has changed to include the more healthy ground chicken or turkey or vegetables).
Salted Tongue – (This may seem quite strange to a lot of people but is a delicacy for some – However this tradition is changing with modern families and rarely eaten out of India).
Rice – Could be a colorful Pulao Rice or Wedding Rice (Wedding Rice is made with caramelized onions, raisins, nuts and sliced boiled eggs).
Chicken Khudi or Duck Moile (East Indian Special)
Chicken Shakuti (Goan Special)
Pork Innad (Magalorean Special)
Beef Stew (Anglo-Indian Special)
Since we did not celebrate Thanksgiving in India, many homes also had the Stuffed and Roasted Pig, Chicken, Turkey or Goose served on the table, ready to be carved. Some of these traditions continued when we migrated.
Besides the curries, we also had a very traditional dish served on Christmas. The Pork Sorpotal and the Pork Vindaloo. Each of the Christian Communities, Goan, East Indian or Mangalorean had their own recipe to serve these dishes.
The Accompaniment / Bread with these traditional were the Fugias (East Indian) or the Sannas (Goan and Mangalorean).
The table would also have many other dishes in order to make sure that it was festively full.The meal was finished with a variety of the following traditional desserts:
Cakes – Mixed Fruit Cake, Plum Cake, Date Cake, Coconut Cake, etc.
Marzipan (Cashew or Almond Based)
Milk Cream (Cashew or Almond Based with a lot of Milk)
Cordial (Cashew or Almond or Coconut Based)
Boros / Bolings (Coconut Based)
Bibique (Eggs & Coconut Based)
Do Dol (Rice Flour, Jaggery, Cashew and Maida Dough)
Thalie Sweet (Sojee and Eggs Based – this sweet is also made by many other communities in India).
Nankhaties (Maida Based – this sweet is also used by many other communities in India).
Milk and Coco Fudge
Nevries (Coconut filling in a sort of layered chapati dough and fried)
Kul Kuls (This is a dough, shaped either on a fork or made into little shells and deep fried.)
Related Article: Christmas is an Indian Festival too