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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 01/24/14

Friday, January 24, 2014

CHRISTMAS IN INDIA!





    India is a secular nation and houses every community. Christians are a minority here and form nearly 2.3% of the population. But the fact that there are only about 25 million Christians in India, in no way lessens the observance of the festival. Moreover, the occassion is celebrated not only by Christians but by people of other religions as well.
    The tradition of Christmas observance was introduced here with the colonisation of Europeans. Though the country gained its independence in 1947, many European customs and festivals stayed on. The fact that there is the presence of a Christian community in India, helped the maintaining of these traditions in no less a way. Today, Christmas is the biggest and most-loved festival of Indian Christians. The festival is also enthusiastically celebrated by people of other religions residing here.










    Like in many other countries, Christmas is observed in India on 25th December. Everyone gears up for the festival from nearly a week before. Business stores are decked up for the occassion with every gift shop packed with Christmas treespresentsornaments and other items of decoration that are bought by millions of enthusiastic celebrants of the festival.
    For Indian Christians, especially the Catholics, the Midnight mass on Christmas Eve is a very important service and holds great religious significance. Every year, on the night of 24th December, all members in Christian families visit their local churches to attend the Midnight mass. On this night, churches in India are decorated with Poinsettia flowers and candles. The mass over, everyone relishes a mouthwatering feast of various delicacies, mostly consisting of curries. Thereupon, presents are given to one another and "Merry Christmas" is wished. India being a multicultural nation, many different languages are spoken here. In Hindi and Urdu, Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Bade Din ki Mubarak'; in Sanskrit it is 'Krismasasya shubhkaamnaa'; in Bengali 'Barodiner shubhechha janai'; and in Tamil it's 'Christhu Jayanthi Nalvaalthukal'.










    Nativity plays are staged in many schools(mainly the Christian ones) and churches on Christmas morning. The perfomances by young children depict the birth, life and actions of Jesus Christ and usually end with the singing of hymns and carols and the visit of a person dressed as Santa to distribute candies/toffees to kids. In the metros a smiling Santa Claus, entertaining children at departmental stores with toys and gifts, is not an uncommon sight. Caroling processions on streets and thoroughfares can also be seen on 24th night.
    A sizeable population of the Christian Community reside in Mumbai of the Indian state of Maharashtra and are mainly Roman Catholics. It is a delight to watch their homes during Christmas. Every Christian home creates a nativity scene, often display a manger in the front window. Giant star-shaped paper lanterns are hung between the houses so that the stars float above you as you walk down the road. There is a provision of sweets, mainly home-made, in every household to welcome visitors during the occassion. In Southern states, Christians often light small clay oil lamps and place these on the flat roofs of their homes to show that Jesus is the light of the world. In the North-western states of India, the tribal Christians of the Bhil folk take out caroling processions during the whole Christmas week and often visit neighbouring villages to tell the Christmas story to people through songs.











    In India, Father Christmas or Santa Claus is held to be the giver of presents to children from a horse and cart. As in the U.S., he is believed to deliver presents at the house of every kid who behaves well during the whole year. Santa Claus is known as 'Christmas Baba' in Hindi and 'Christmas Thaathaa' in Tamil.

CAMEL WRESTLING FROM TURKEY!!





    Camel wrestling is a sport in which two male Tulu camels wrestle in response to a female camel in heat being led before them. It is most common in the Aegean region of Turkey, but is also found in the Marmara and Mediterranean regions of that country. There are an estimated 1,200 wrestling camels in Turkey, bred specially for the competitions.






The Parade

    The day before each Championship is set aside for a parade through the town of Selcuk, with the animals dressed up in all their finery. Not all of the fighting camels will attend the parade however. In 2011 around 30 camels were on show on the Saturday, with around 100 taking part in the fighting. The most beautiful camel in 2011 was "Palavra", a camel with a particularly talented foaming mouth.






The Championships

    Held in an ancient stadium at Ephesus, 6 kilometers from the town of Selcuk, on the 3rd Sunday of January, the camel wrestling championships have drawn thousands of spectators annually. The festival usually highlights wrestling of 120- camels, but in 2001 only 96 were involved. The event puts together two bull (male) camels with a female camel on heat nearby. The camels fight it out for the female, leaning on each other to push the other down. A camel can win a wrestling match in three ways: By making the other camel retreat, scream, or fall. The owner of a camel may also throw a rope into the field to declare a forfeit if he is concerned for the safety of his animal.      Camels wrestle with other in their same weight class. Camels have different tricks, and contest organizers match camels with different skills. Some camels wrestle from the right and some from the left; some trip the other with foot tricks ("cengelci"), and some trap their opponent's head under their chest and then try to sit ("bagei"); some push their rivals to make them retreat ("tekci").The actual wrestling can be somewhat underwhelming to someone not familiar with the intricacies, although onlookers must often flee from an oncoming camel that is retreating in defeat from his opponent. In the heat of the tournament, camels spew foamy saliva in their excitement. Additionally, camels are retromingent animals, and so spectators would be advised to aware not only of flying saliva but of flying urine as well.


One of the bands entertaining the crowds

The Atmosphere and Revelry

    The event is famous for it's electric atmosphere, starting on the Saturday at the parade, and lasting long into the evening. Gypsy bands roam the center of Selcuk playing Zirna (like a cross between a clarinet and a recorder), Clarinet, and Davul (drum). The local men drink raki and dance energetically for many hours, only to wake up and head off to the main event early Sunday morning. You have to be early to get a good ringside seat, with many restaurants set up offering food and drinks to those willing to pay a little extra for the convenience. If you miss out though, you can join the thousands of spectators lining the hills which surround the ring, cooking barbecues and drinking more of the infamous raki. The gypsy bands don't miss out on all the action, and will spend the day roaming from group to group searching for tips and adding great tunes for the crowds to dance to.