Mangaluru, Dec 25, 2017: Even as Christmas morn dawns and the world gears up to soak in the Christmas fervor, the one man looked up to is Santa Claus—the jolly man in red is known for piety and kindness, as much as he is known for gifts and fun.
Dakshina Kannada has its Santa Claus who, in his own way, has been touching the lives of the less privileged in orphanages, old age homes, and among autorickshaw drivers, irrespective of caste and creed.
Vincent Menezes, 51, was born at Kokkada in Puttur. A farmer by profession, Vincent has been travelling across Dakshina Kannada and Udupi since 2000, during the Christmas season, in order to spread smiles in orphanages, old age homes, convents and among autorickshaw drivers, by conversing with them, dancing for them, and distributing sweets.
Clad in a perfect Santa suit, Vincent goes around on his two-wheeler decorated in sync with the festivity. His two-wheeler carries a banner on the message of Christmas, with speakers fitted on it. Wherever he is welcomed, Vincent hands out printed leaflets comprising the message of Christmas, and also distributes candies. When he stops at NGOs and autorickshaw stands, he gives people free cakes and toffees.
Starting a few days before Christmas, Vincent travels at least 400 km. Spending Rs 25,000 for the four-day trip every year hasn’t been easy for Vincent. The money earned from agriculture is just good enough to sustain the family’s livelihood - comprising his wife, a homemaker, two daughters and mother. However, that hasn’t dampened Vincent’s spirit. He has been managing his expenses by making compromises with regards to his lifestyle. An example of this is that Vincent has been wearing the same costume, which he bought for his first outing as Santa in 2000.