Mangaluru, Dec 22, 2017: Mangaluru and Udupi are known for their historical and aesthetic churches. Be it the Rosario Cathedral, Lady of Miracles Church or Milagres Church, Holy Cross Church at Kulshekar, St Xavier Church at Bejai, Infant Jesus shrine atop Carmel Hill at Bikarnakatte, St Aloysius Chapel, St Sebastian’s Church at Bendoor, St Joseph’s Seminary at Jeppu, Our Lady of Remedies Church near Kinnigoli, Our Lady Of Miracles Church at Kallianpur or Mother of Sorrows Church in Udupi, each church has its own significance.
There was a time when people used to prepare for Christmas at least two months in advance. They used to ‘sow the seeds’ and recreate the birth places of Jesus Christ (Bethlehem or Jerusalem) to make the crib look real and artistic, mix cakes (40 to 45 days in advance as the nuts, raisins, chocolate chips and currants have to be marinated in liquor for not less than a month), prepare kuswar and give clothing material for stitching.
However, circumstances have changed today and most go for ready made items.
Kuswar is nothing but the traditional sweets made during Christmas season, including half moon-shaped nevryo, kideo, round-shaped gulio, the star-shaped kokkisan, rice laddu and the diamond-shaped tukdi. It also, of course, includes cakes with different shapes and flavours — these range from plain ones to the cream-based cakes.
In the bygone days, family members would gather to prepare it themselves and the kuswar was distinctly Mangalurean in flavour. It is also a practice to share kuswar with family and friends.
“Many years ago, all the members of the family used to join hands to prepare kuswar. Now, my children have grown up and settled abroad. I am also comfortable buying kuswar from bakery,” says Mangaluru-based Judith D’Silva.
Another tradition that defines Christmas is the singing of carols. Come Christmas, many families sing to their favourite Christmas tunes. Many of these tunes are timeless classics sung by popular singers and can be heard playing out of many homes.
While Christmas celebrations end a day or two after December 25, it is not so in the coastal districts. In fact, the season of celebration continues even after the New Year Day. With so much happening, it is hard to enjoy the festive fervour that December brings.
Christmas gets life at Vidyagiri :
Speaking at the inaugural of Christmas celebrations organised at Alva’s Education Foundation at Rathnakaravarni Vedike at Vidyagiri, he said the festival conveys the message of peace orientated happiness and spreads the knowledge of good and bad. “May the festival be a medium through which relationships are enriched,” he said. The celebrations began with a procession of students holding candles, flowers, and Santa Claus costumes.
Konkani Sahitya Academy former chairman Roy Castellino, who was the chief guest, said that it is indeed a matter of pride that students from all religious backgrounds assemble here to celebrate Christmas. More than 25,000 students study at Alva’s institutions, including a couple of thousands from the northeastern states.
Alva’s address : Alva’s Education Foundation Chairman Dr M Mohan Alva said religion should be a leading light for the current generation and not a cause for inequality. “We must stay immune to the forces that attempt to break us in apart in the name of religion,” he said. Alva added that celebrations of religious festivals at Alva’s are done with an objective to encourage students to connect with their religious identities as well as understand that of others.
As a part of the celebrations, White Doves Charitable Trust Founder Director Corrin Rasquinha was felicitated on the occasion. An interesting aspect was that more than 500 students formed the choir team at the celebrations. The performance by the Blue Angels team from Mangaluru and students of Alva’s kept the audience enchanted for the night.
The vicinity was decorated to give a heavenly feel, also incorporating student works such as cards, artworks, cribs and fancy lights. The winning works were also awarded.
Former minister K Amaranth Shetty, Alva’s Education Trustee Vivek Alva and Rev. F X Gomes and others were present on the occasion.