Express News Service
HYDERABAD: Christmas Day is celebrated across the world as the day when Jesus arrived. Marked with midnight mass, carol singing, feasting, pomp and gaiety, this day is one of the most important days in a calendar year.
And like any festival, decoration and food play a major role. Families spruce up their houses with festive lights, the quintessential fir tree, gifts, and serve a huge feast partaking it with their near and dear ones.
This year, however, under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, the cheer is subdued. Many churches have either cancelled their midnight mass, or are having it with a limited gathering, and streaming it online. The morning service and the carols will also be streamed.
Rev Kapil Kapadia, Zion Fellowship, Alwal said, “Apart from the limited church gathering, our congregation will be viewing the service from their homes. We will continue to have carol songs and Christmas cake cutting along with the nativity skit and dances.” Fr MM Kennedy from St Francis Xavier Church, Yapral, says, “We are a small church of 150 members and are having all the services in open ground—the midnight mass and the morning service with carol singing and cake cutting.
Drive-in services are also possible here since it is a large open space.” Prabhu Krupakar, a business consultant who attends the St John’s Church, Secunderabad, says, “The midnight service is cancelled here, but in the morning, it will be both a physical as well as an online service. People above 65 and toddlers have been advised to stay home.”Rev Dr Purushotham Mundel, associate senior pastor, Centenary Baptist Church, Secunderabad added, “The events in the church would be the same, but with minor adjustments. Since the masks will be on, the eyes will speak this time.
The joy will be conveyed with a distanced ‘Namaste’ instead of a handshake or a hug.” Some churches have allowed families to sing carols within the church premises. “We have cancelled carol visitations, and will have carol singing at the church itself. We have also cancelled our community fellowship dinner,” shared Rev Kapil. Leena Raj, who lives at Miyapur is a member of her church’s choir. She says, “We went in groups to the church and recorded the carols which are going to be streamed.”
Attractive food bowls with an assortment of exotic nuts for munching – pecans, filberts, macadamias, Brazil nuts, edamame (wasabi flavour) and soy nuts form an integral part of the meal. Music composer and singer Anup Rubens who attends the Bethlehem Mennonite Brethren Church, Malakpet, says, “After the morning service, we will be having a family lunch at home.
This year, in particular, Christmas is about being grateful for our blessings.” Naveen Anand, a businessman from Sainikpuri is adding an array of finger food to his menu from fish to “deep-fried chicken marinated in sumac and za’atar I got from Turkey,” he declares. Usually, kitchens are considered a women’s bastion, but Naveen begs to differ. He says proudly, “I am the main cook for Christmas. My chicken roast with vegetables and the special plum cake I bake for lunch is a big hit.”
In preparation for this holy day, Sonee Kohli, a Roman Catholic from Kondapur who attends Our Lady Of Rosary Church, Miyapur, says, “We have soaked dry fruits and plums for the cake a few weeks in advance, and will now bake the cake and make rose cookies, kalkals, coconut patties and minced meat pies for the feast.” Gayle, a mother of two is preparing a complete English meal. Her drool-worthy menu includes roast turkey with stuffing, bread rolls, English stew, ginger wine and pudding for dinner.
John Prakash, from Manikonda who works in a BPO, says, “The sprucing of the house and the festival fervour starts as soon as winter sets in. Our feast comprises local food, with coconut rice and mutton biryani being the mainstay of our meal.” Caterers across the city are curating easy-to-eat finger food such as nachos with different dips, tea cakes, plum cakes, rum cakes, petite sandwiches and eggs with stuffing for the Yuletide feasts. Some hotels keeping with the spirit of joy and the tradition of baking a cake have already organised cake mixing sessions. Despite Covid-19, the joyous sounds of carols, the cool winter air and delectable food, all herald us towards a new year.
Home décor trends
While there are no extravagant parties this time, people are leaving no stone unturned in decorating their homes. Gopi from Partyboyz, Lingampally, says every year there are elaborate parties in homes, societies and offices with playful colours and dramatic designs. This year, either the parties are cancelled or low key family affairs. Even as green, red and silver are the colours of Christmas, people are mixing them up with whites, sparkling pastels and metallic accents. Gopi says, “Since we don’t get snowfall here, white Christmas with snowman, snowflakes and silver accents is attractive.” Along with paper streamers, DIY accents in Navy blue, platinum, plaid checks, burgundy, gold hues, shimmery silver and rich Earth tones are all in vogue this year. Wooden DIY accents are rage to add that extra personal touch to the festivities. “Shades of blue and silver muted with subtle shimmer are the looks,” shares Sandra from Kondapur as she decorates her home. Plaid, embellished and embroidered stockings in red and gold adorn her newly painted ecru coloured wall.
— Tamanna S Mehdi email@example.com @tamannamehdi