Christmas cakes, candles, carols amid security in Kolkata

December 25th, 2008 - 7:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 25 (IANS) The city donned a Christmas robe Thursday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with cakes, cookies, candles and carols amid tight security for a peaceful festivity.St. Pauls Cathedral here and Bandel Church, on the outskirts of the city, were crowded by Christians, and also joined by people from other faiths in the celebrations.

All city churches and cathedrals, decorated with colourful festoons, paper stars, Christmas trees, twinkling lights and candles, held daylong prayers.

Hundreds of visitors started pouring in at the beautifully decorated Mother House - the global headquarters of Missionaries of Charity (MoC) founded by Mother Teresa - since morning.

Celebrations were on in full swing at Bow Barracks - the hub of Anglo-Indians in central Kolkata.

“Our Christmas is incomplete without home-made fruit wines and fruit cakes. Despite the fact that the exuberance over brewing wine for weeks before Christmas, like our grandmothers did, no longer exists, we still try to stick to our tradition,” said Laura D’ Souza, a city resident.

“All the 132 residents of the Bow Barracks had a grand party Wednesday night. We sang and danced till Thursday morning,” D’Souza said.

People in Park Street area in south Kolkata, a famous hub for Christmas celebrations, remained wide-awake since Wednesday night. All shops and restaurants of the area were decked up with Christmas trees, models of Santa Claus, colourful ribbons and lights.

Almost every restaurant and hotel has organised a Christmas party with people across different faiths joining with as much festive gusto.

Old confectionaries here baked special Christmas cakes and cookies.

There were long queues outside Nahoum’s, an old Jewish bakery in New Market in central Kolkata, and Flury’s, another British era tearoom on Park Street, as well as city-based confectionaries like Sugar and Spice, Kathleen and Monginis.

People, seeking for cheaper cakes, crowded before local shops too.

A few cake shops at New Market were seen selling “Nano” cakes, named after Tata Motors’ cheapest car that was to roll out from West Bengal. But the project was scuttled after opposition from farmers.

“We have baked the fruit cake in shape of Tata Motors small car Nano. People generally go to popular cake shops to buy Christmas cakes. As a result our business suffers. Hence we have baked this special cake and we are running out of stock,” said Sunil De, a local cake shop owner.

Shops, as well as hawkers were selling Christmas trees, paper stars, greetings cards, idols of Santa Claus and Santa’s red-white cap.

“We don’t know who Santa Claus is. But his caps and masks sell like hot cakes during Christmas. That’s all we want,” said Taher Ali, a 13-year-old hawker, selling Santa Claus caps at Park Street crossing.

Places of interest like the city zoo, Victoria Memorial Hall and the Indian Museum, as well as multiplexes were thronged by visitors throughout the day. Some people even organised picnics.

“What a better way to celebrate Christmas than going for a picnic. We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves,” said Laltu Roy, who was picnicking with family and friends at the zoo.

Meanwhile, the police were geared to ensure the safety of people amid the festivity.

“We have deployed additional forces - in uniform as well as in casuals - at all popular and crowded places. Every person, baggage and private vehicle is being checked at vulnerable places,” city police deputy commissioner Vinet K. Goyal told reporters.

“We have taken all security measures to avoid any untoward incident during Christmas,” Goyal said.

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