Kolkata: As Christmas is around the corner! Gifts, carols, good food, Christmas trees- it’s the time to celebrate already. Once the capital of British India, Kolkata (or Calcutta as it was called then) has expanded its colonial legacy to include a more cosmopolitan look. For Christmas and New Year revellers in search of the “authentic” food and party that sometimes goes on all night, Bow Barracks is the place to be.
Christmas celebrations at Bow Barracks — the city’s Anglo-Indian hub — have started earlier than usual. And instead of just the usual events like feasts, dance, music and football tournaments, this time the organisers have started with the joy of giving. They have adopted 25 families, whose members are too old and poor to provide for themselves and have started a system of providing monthly ration. This will continue for as long as the members survive.
Bow Barracks was built to house soldiers fighting the First World War. When the soldiers left, they left the quarters to Anglo-Indian, primarily Christian, families. Today, about 20% non-Christians have also found their place here.
The community lets outsiders join its parties for a nominal fee. Many come to buy homemade cakes and wine prepared by the elderly women. Valerie Ali, who is in her mid-60s, said, “I baked at least 80 pounds of cake this year. I can’t do without this bit of joy. I have made about 30 litres of wine as well.”
Two other elderly, Angela Ram and Anna Chow, said, “The thought of baking cakes and making wine during this season keeps many of us old ladies alive.”
The community on Friday will put up its famous light nets, popularly known as ‘fairy lights’ to kick off the celebrations. On the morning of December 24, a special Christmas ration will be distributed by Bow United — a club of 450 families from the community.
Felix Augustine, spokesperson of Bow United, said, “The musical night that goes on till 12 o’clock every year is slated for Christmas eve. Christmas will be spent over music and feasts at a community gathering. The community on December 26 will visit the zoo. Special events will be held for the elderly on December 27. Friendly football matches will be held over the next two days on the grounds overlooking the red buildings and finally December 31 will be the much awaited all-night dance.”