Kolkata, Dec 24 (IANS) There are many reasons to be in Kolkata in the merriest month of the year. With the intoxicating aroma of brewing wines and baking cakes, memorable times with loved ones and Christmas revellery, the city is at its alluring best and soaked in Yuletide joy.
If dazzling revellery and fervour make a festival, Christmas celebrations in the city boast of matching those in the West, but they also has some distinct flavours of their own.
The city's famous heritage address - Bow Barracks inhabited by Christians and Anglo-Indians - bustles with activity as children and the aged revel in festivities, which start well ahead of Christmas.
There are carnivals and music festivals, football and hockey tournaments and unions the families with their loved ones, who have travelled miles to be here for the occasion, and not to forget the free-flowing wines, ales and the sinfully alluring culinary delights. If it is Christmas it has to be Bow Barracks.
"Christmas celebrations here are matchless. The enthusiasm, the revellery, homemade raisins, ginger wines, cakes and Bow Barracks and Christmas are synonymous," says Daryl Lobo, one of the 130-odd families that live in the row of red brick buildings.
"It's not only Christians, but Bengalis, Gujaratis, Chinese and of course Muslims who spend these final days of the year like one family. Bow Barracks epitomises the India we all cherish," added Lobo.
Not far from there Bow Barracks is the fashionable Park Street, for long the epicentre of Christmas festivities in the city.
Variously known as "Food Street" for the landmark dining hubs and "The Street that Never Sleeps" for its bustling night spots, the mansion-lined street that oozes a British era charm is lit up and decorated.
The Kolkata Christmas Festival, a state government initiative, has added charm to the Christmas festivities in the city.
The four-day event inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Dec 16 features dances, musical performances, Christmas carols, cooking competitions and a vintage car rally has been such a big hit that the government is mulling to extend the carnival till new year's eve.
"The festival has added a new dimension to Christmas and new year celebrations. I would love it if it continues till the new year," said a youngster.
"The celebrations here embrace tradition with a touch of modernity. It is great to hang out with friends and relatives," said Sahana a student.
The event, slated to culminate on Christmas, will also get an anthem of its own, which will be sung by Usha Uthup Dec 25 with performances by bands like Orient Express and Krosswindz.
From colourful snow streamers, sparkling battery-operated stars, snow bells, dancing Santas, musical Christmas trees, foldable trees, wreaths and foldable decorative items and baubles, decor shops have lined up a host of ornaments to add the extra glitz to Christmas celebrations this year.
A child's dream of meeting Santa Claus and getting a gift from him will come true at a city book store, which has arranged for story sessions with Santa, featuring food critic and hip pocket drummer Nondon Bagchi.
Similar programmes were organised by several other stores in the city while the eateries lured revellers with delicacies from Goa, authentic Bengali and South Indian cuisines.
(Anurag Dey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)