Bangalore expats scale down yearend celebrations

December 23rd, 2008 - 11:15 am ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Dec 23 (IANS) They are an increasingly visible part of Bangalore’s seven million population but expatriates in India’s IT hub have been known for their whole-hearted participation in major events the city celebrates, including the Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations. But not this year.The Mumbai terror attacks and the global economic crisis have forced the 35,000-strong expat community here to welcome 2009 without hype and hoopla.

“Every year we used to organise parties as part of Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, where German families staying in Bangalore participate. But this year we have lined up no special celebrations. Just a few days back we had a small party in our office with a few German business delegates who had come here for work,” Audrey D’souza, Bangalore regional director of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce, told IANS.

D’Souza added that out of 300 German families residing in the city, most had gone to their native places to celebrate year-end festivities as the current situation in India is not conducive to any big celebration, especially after the Mumbai terror attacks.

“We’re scared to organise any big celebration as questions of safety and security of revellers have to be taken into account post-26/11. Moreover, when the entire nation is mourning the deaths of innocent lives, we thought it inappropriate to hold any celebrations,” said Meghala, the cultural coordinator of Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, the social and cultural hub of French expatriates in the city.

An estimated 200 French families stay here.

“In past years we used to have a series of fun filled events to usher in New Year. Individually, of course French people will be celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve. But not in a bigger way with lots of people coming together,” added Meghala.

The Mumbai terror attacks killed around 170 people, of whom 22 were foreign nationals.

Bangalore’s reputation of being the technology hub of the country has made the city a favoured abode of expatriates in recent times.

Of the expatriates in Bangalore, some 13,000 are students pursuing professional education or internships from a wide assortment of countries, including Britain, Germany, France, Canada, Spain, the US and Iran.

“After the Mumbai terror attacks, we are all scared to go to public places to enjoy parties. Thus, I have invited a few of my friends at home to welcome 2009. Two of my cousins who are working in Bangalore have left for Toronto, so that they can celebrate their New Year parties in a grand manner,” said IT professional Adam Olive, a native of Toronto, Canada.

The Bangalore Expatriate Club or BEC, a social club that provides the expatriates of the city a platform to interact and share one another’s experiences, is not going for any big year-end parties either.

“The club members often used to do networking in pubs, clubs and restaurants of the city. But most of the public places are having tight security these days. We have no plans to hold any celebrations as part of our new year celebrations,” Les P, senior member of BEC and a software architect from Chicago, settled in Bangalore for the last six months, told IANS.

“Time is not conducive for any celebrations after the Mumbai terror attacks. We have not yet decided on any specific party for New Year’s Eve,” said Philip Collins, a native of Denmark, working in BPO and a member of the club.

The club currently has 4,000 members.

To beef up security cover for the expatriates who fear they might be potential terror targets, a delegation representing trade commissioners and consulates of different countries recently met Bangalore police commissioner Shankar Bidari.

“We’ve assured them full security cover in the city. We have also advised them to hire armed private security guards. We are also working out a special security measure to be provided to important foreign residents in the city. But we cannot divulge details,” a senior police officer said.

Authorities in several churches spread across Bangalore said the enthusiasm to celebrate Christmas was missing this time.

“Due to the Mumbai terror strikes and attacks on the Christian community in Orissa and Karnataka, we have asked people to keep Christmas celebrations low key. The mood among the people too is sombre. Christmas this time will be a quiet affair,” said Daniel Ravi Kumar, Presbyter-in-charge of St. Mark’s Cathedral, the oldest Anglican Church in Bangalore, founded in 1808.

(Maitreyee Boruah can be contacted at

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