Christmas has its own special charm. It is the time of wonderful smelling goodies, gorgeous fairy lights, twinkling tin ornaments, and a general feeling of goodness. No matter, in which part of the world it is celebrated, good food, cheer, and happy laughter mark this joyous celebration. I love Christmas. There is something very infectiously happy about the festival and being an enormous foodie, I can eat Christmas goodies like no tomorrow. It is one festival, which I never fail to celebrate and my favourite Christmas celebrations are held in my hometown of Calcutta in India. This Eastern Indian city has a sizeable Anglo Indian community who take pride in their delicious cuisine and we enjoy some of the best Christmas dishes in the entire country. The city looks very pretty too and rows of colourful fairy lights bedazzle Park Street revelers, who queue up at its quintessential restaurants for hours in search of hearty Christmas specials. Complete with deep old velvet couches, dusty chandeliers, heavy cutlery, table linen, and brooding larger than life oil paintings, these restaurants are charmingly old-fashioned and every Christmas they rustle up culinary delights like the roasted goose or turkey, plum pudding, Yuletide logs and spicy mulled wine. The heritage block of sleepy red brick buildings called Bow Barracks buzzes with activities and sounds of laughter pour out from every small flat. This is the heart of the Anglo Indian community in Calcutta and the Bow Barracks Christmas celebration is simply magical.
Santa comes riding on a rickshaw at Bow Barracks Christmas
Streamers, balloons, silver bells, and paper snowflakes swing gently in the winter evening breeze at Bow Barracks flats and Chinese lanterns light up the tinsel Christmas stars. The city murmurs with happiness as Anglo Indian and Christian expat families come back home for Christmas and Bow Barracks smells of heady homemade wines and mouthwatering cinnamon cookies. I remember, during my teenage days, my friends and I would walk around this quarters a week or so before Christmas, just to indulge in the infectious joie de vivre and delicious baking smells which would pour out from nearly every window. Such is the happiness of Bow Barracks Christmas and the best part is their beautiful tradition of sharing this joy with just about everybody. Every year, for more than a decade, these heritage quarters and the community celebrates the birth of baby Jesus with food and fun with the lesser privileged children of the neighbourhood. Raffle tickets, street parties, goody baskets, and Christmas feasts are arranged by collecting money from each and every member of Bow Barracks and a red-robed Santa comes riding a hand-pulled rickshaw. This is indeed a sight to behold and during Christmas in Calcutta, Bow Barracks is the place to be. Celebrate with me as I take you on a virtual photo tour of my hometown of Calcutta, where we celebrate the Yuletide magic with festivities, generosity, and warmth, in a true Christmas spirit.
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Bow Barracks Christmas guide
Bow Barracks is a locality in the central Kolkata in India. It is located right behind the Bowbazar police station, off the busy Central Avenue and the easiest way to get there is by Metro. In fact, both Central Avenue and Chandni Chowk metro stations are within 2 minutes walking distance from Bow Barracks and it is a narrow lane between Hare Street and Bohu Bazaar police station. The special Bow Barracks Christmas celebrations or the Bow Fest start before Christmas and continue until New Year. The week-long celebrations are held on the stretch between the rows of buildings and during the fest, this place bustles with fun as children and the aged revel in festivities. The programmes of the fest can be found posted on the walls and activities are lined up from December 23rd to 31st: There are some singing and dancing along with the highlight, Santa Claus who comes riding a quintessential Calcutta rickshaw. A Christmas Ball, Senior Citizen’s Day, two days of floodlight soccer tournament are also a part of the programme and the year-end dance is held at the SFX church hall. “There a bedecked Christmas tree celebration that is aimed at children from the age group of 2-12yrs and this includes around 500 underprivileged children of the area. Children games and pony rides are arranged for the kids and the underprivileged ones receive gifts, as well as food packets. For the senior citizens, there are rounds of bingo, musical chairs, dancing, etc. The year-end dance starts at 2130 hrs and lasts until 6 in the morning the next day. There is a complete bonhomie as the young and the old dance together throughout the night and such is the bonding that bow barracks expat residents return to their hometown of Kolkata around this time of the year to be a part of the annual festivities.
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