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An Anglo - Indian Christmas

Anglo-Indians, a people of mixed Indian and European (mainly English, Scottish or Irish) heritage, are one of the most vibrant and fun-loving communities in India. Here’s a look at how they celebrate Christmas  

11/26/2014 3:43:30 PM
written By : Shobha Tsering Bhalla Print

For many of us who grew up in small town India, the perfect catch-phrase to describe that idyllic period of early school life in the 1960s would have to be “an Anglo-Indian childhood”. That’s because in those days most hill towns and hill schools, like the one I studied in, had a large number of Anglo-Indians - from students to faculty.

From the climate to the landscape, Shillong, Darjeeling, Nainital, Simla, Mussourie, Wellington and Dalhousie all resembled pretty little English and Scottish towns with their steepled churches, Victorian cottages, tall conifers and mist - far removed from the heat and dust, the decay and din of the crowded old cities of the plains. Our way of life, our music, our tastes, our references to context all spun around the “Anglo-Indian” world where not only language but accent bound us non-Anglos and Anglos together, and obscured the larger “vernacular” world outside which strayed in only occasionally through a Bollywood song on a tinny transistor or – to our insular little ears - a hopelessly unintelligible math teacher from the deep South. We knew the rituals of Anglo-India even better than those of the storied, ancient culture we were born into. This was only natural, living as we were so far from our parents and so close to Anglo-Indian cultural influences. 

But what an innocent, pastoral land before time it was, where one viewed life through a rosy prism, untainted by adult experience. Of all the memories, it is the food and the festivities that have left an indelible mark on my consciousness. Among my closest friends were two sisters – Rosalyn and Marilyn Macdonald-D’Silva. Their name itself speaks of a rich mixed heritage – as flamboyant and delicious as the culinary legacy the Anglo-Indians left the world.

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