Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 25 (IANS) Thousands of devout Christians attended mass at churches across Kerala Saturday and headed home for a special breakfast of appam, stew, baked bananas and cakes, but the usual public revelry was low key following four-time chief minister K. Karunakaran's death.
While in some churches the mass began soon after midnight, in others it started at dawn and Christmas cakes and wine were served in church itself.
At midnight, revellers usually burst a lot of crackers in Christian dominated districts of central Kerala but Friday midnight saw fewer crackers.
Earlier Friday evening, the carriage carrying Karunakaran's body passed through these Christian dominated areas before reaching Thrissur, where the cremation will take place later Saturady.
Thousands waited for hours on National Highway 47 from Thiruvananthapuram to Kollam to catch one last glimpse of the Congress veteran who passed away a day earlier at the age of 92.
Districts in central Kerala that are home to a large number of Christians - they make up 22 percent of the state's 32 million population - mark the event with maximum fanfare.
Catholics are the dominant group, comprising 50 percent of the Christians in the state, followed by the Orthodox Church with a population of around 2.5 million. Jacobites, Mar Thoma, the Church of South India and the Pentecostal churches make up the rest.
This Christmas season, the soaring prices of rubber at Rs.200 a kilo has brought some cheer, fetching more money for those with plantations, and balancing the spiralling prices of essential items.
'Every item in the market ranging from vegetables to chicken and even the Christmas cake is costing so much more, but to a large extent the excellent price of rubber has come as a relief,' said Jacob Babu, a businessman in Kottayam.
After Christmas mass, most families went home to a sumptuous breakfast comprising the traditional appam with stew, baked bananas, egg curry and, of course, cakes.
Several hotels in the state are expecting a good turnout for the Christmas lunch as more and more families prefer to either take a parcel home or eat out to save the trouble of cooking and spend more time with the family.
'Gone are the days when the kitchens used to see hectic activity a few days before Christmas. No one is to be blamed for this because everyone is busy and these are the very few days families get a break and many prefer to rest,' said 75-year-old Annamma Thomas from Kochi who has planned a Christmas lunch out with her son.
Another sign of the Christmas season is the long queues seen in front of retail shops of the state-owned Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC), the lone wholesalers of beer and Indian-made foreign liquor.
According to KSBC officials, the month of December is expected to see high sales crossing Rs.500 crore.