Whoops of delight permeated the air at the pre-Christmas celebrations at Vaani Nilayam in Secunderabad on Saturday. A sort of precursor to the Christmas day, Anglo-Indians from the city come together for a night of dancing and merriment every year.
The Yuletide spirit was high at this year’s event too, as children, toddlers and teenagers alike crowded around the Santa as he ho-hoed his way around the beautifully decorated room, handing out goodies and presents from his big red bag.
“It’s a big night for us. Everyone from the community comes together for the celebrations adding to the cheer, and dresses up for the event. For many of us, this is like a pre-celebration before we meet again for the Boxing Day Ball,” says Warren Latouche, governing body member and president, All-India Anglo-Indian Association, Secunderabad.
For the small, but united, community of Anglo-Indians, Noel’s tidings start pouring in well in advance. Christmas merriment in the city is a wonderful compote of ethnic traditions of the south and the British legacy, the community was birthed from.
Aromas of baked goods such as plum cakes, stollens, sweet bread and cookies waft through the homes of community members well before December brings its winter chill, and the promise of merry festivities. It sees entire families pitch in, with stirring that gooey mixture of candied peels, fruits, nuts, brandy and flour which ferments into the delicious and rich Christmas cake and pudding consumed on the big day.
And, the party at Vaani Nilayam never goes without a hefty helping of ball curry with generous amounts of coconut rice, beef roast, fiery devil chutney and the famous pork vindaaloo churned out by SV caterers well-versed with delicious fare for many years now.
“Senior citizens also make it a point to come to the event and we distribute gifts to them as well. The party is not limited to just Anglo-Indians, but also others who want to take part in the celebrations,” adds Warren. Also, this is the time when donations by members and outsides alike are also announced for the attendees.
Once the Christmas tree is decorated to the ‘T’, with pretty lights, streamers, the Christmas star and the wreath hung on the door, comes the time for the ball which is held the day after Christmas.
Looked forward to eagerly by the youngsters in the city, no stone is left unturned when it comes to dresses and tuxes for the Boxing Day Ball. “Often, the ball has become the place where love stories have blossomed on the dance floor and made the dancing partner a partner for life for many,” says Warren.