In search of Christmas party
Dr Ksh Imokanta Singh
This piece may sound like a leaf from my family diary, but it may be that of others also.
To begin with, I confess that I am not a Christian by religion but enjoy Christmas in spirit, like many. I had been waiting for some invitations this time also but I am not ashamed to publicise that I was not invited at all by any of my Christian Friends unlike last year.
Then I thought why I should dampen the mood for the sake of any formal invitation. May be through some psychic network, my daughter opined that she wanted to celebrate Christmas at our home. Since I consider myself being one the most liberal souls in the entire universe, I said Yes, but then reminded her that it would not be fun if we did it alone at home since we did not know much of the way Christians celebrate Christmas.
I suggested that we should scan the town and see where the parties were on and just join them, gatecrash them, to be precise. My family set off for the hunt with my cover song playing on stereo.
In the evening, we headed towards Ching-meirong side where most of the big Churches are located, but only to be disappointed. Most of the Churches were closed by the time we crossed them. We also expected the streets there to be beaming with life and lights.
May be, celebrations and parties had been shifted somewhere in the villages of Dewlaland, Nagaram, Ragailong and far away hills. Our intention for some mingling in Christmas gusto was a little defeated. But evening was still young.
Instead, we decided to treat ourselves with our own money. My children settled for some chicken burgers and Pizzas from the US and fried chicken from the Tandy’s. And we Parents opted for some drinks from Casablanca and some Veg. Rolls served with Tandy’s Fried Chicken wrapper. (Don’t get me wrong, I am not a pure Veggie or Vegan, whatever they mean).
Is it a promotion or demotion for Veggies, being presented that way ? Veggies respected with chicken Grades or Veggies least honoured in a majorly Non-Veg. restaurant with step-motherly Grade ? But that was not the main issue.
The main issue was that the restaurant still had 5% discount as Christmas bonus. The place smelling with Christmas aroma and crowded with no vacant seat, we thought paid party was here to enjoy. On cursory scanning of the crowd, we came to the premature conclusion that those were Christmas revellers and none Christian.
That is the beauty and grandeur of Christmas being a culture, not strictly stitched to a religion. On the way back, I thought of spoiling myself further and picked up two cans of Vijay Mallya’s (?) surviving bird. I suppose that Bird-liquid is also Veg.
One thought was bothering me - where were those Christians who were supposed to be thronging the streets and restaurants of Imphal ? They might be thinking why they should discount their own parties with outside food but to enjoy self-cooked ones at their personal places. May be most of the Christians at Imphal had already gone to their villages at Hills, Imphal being only their work place, except for those whose homes and villages are here.
Talking of villages, let me take you to my village, Thinungei.
At the western mountain slopes are located Haotak (a Kom village), Laimanai or Thingpui (a Kabui village) and some other villages. When I was small, December and January were the times when we were woken up every morning by the Christmas songs, sung in their different languages (which we did not know despite being neighbours) and tunes, traversing from the mountains through the freshly harvested paddy fields.
The villagers used to revel for about a month or so for there were enough time, cash, provisions and above all, celebratory zeal and hospitality. What was really heart-warming was that they also welcomed our villagers with food, drinks, song and dance. There were many in my village who painstakingly waited for such treats. Such seasonal affairs went on till I was not so small. But today it has become just nostalgia. May be the villagers have become wiser money-wise, time-wise and hospitality-wise.
Meiteis used to, still today, crowd those month- long galas. Some were formally invited and many just gate-crashers, searching for their long-lost friends in those Christian villages. As they had entered the party, how could the hosts turn them away insulting.
Villagers treated them with their favourites-beef, pork, buffalo meat, Zu etc. Some even used to spend nights at the villages. No matter how hospitable a host could be there are some limits of tolerance. Then this story started circulating for Meiteis.
(To be contd)