Christmas in Puducherry

Aurobindo ashram welcome urliThe only reason at that time, to plan a trip to Pondicherry, was spending quality time with old friends on their wedding anniversary but we decided to see the Aurobindo Ashram as well. We landed in Puducherry on 23rd December 2007 evening, the anniversary date. After quick shower and change of clothes, we all sat guzzling beers, remembering our childhood days, pulling each other’s leg, arguing, laughing at silly jokes, teasing… and my friend’s wife exchanged recipes, planned for some shopping……..Night seemed too short that day. We almost slept at the break of dawn.

The sun was on top of our heads when we finally woke up with surprisingly mild headache…

The next day we made a short trip to Auroville, bought souvenirs which were hand crafted by people residing there. The Matrimandir was not opened for visitors then, since some construction was underway but we still spent time in the shade of a huge banyan tree clicking pictures till our hosts decided to take us for shopping! The café at Auroville was decorated for christmas. Some kids practiced for a skit. The cute little Santa and snow-men near the decorated Christmas tree formed the backdrop of the kids’ stage.

Christmas decoration at Aurobindo Ashram

Christmas tree at ashram

By evening the whole market was glittering with multicolored lights ….Boards announcing the ‘Christmas-sale’ peered back at us from every shop….People were in festive mood, street peddlers sold balloons, candies, Santa Claus caps and decorative socks. Every corner already had somebody in Santa Claus attire shouting ‘ho-ho-ho’ to the passer-by.

Churches looked beautiful as if stars really had come down to celebrate Christmas next day. Outside the Immaculate Conception Church, we contemplated going in but decided against it as we did not want to barge in like tourists and disturb the people praying inside.

Immaculate Conception Church, PondicherryThe 300 year old Immaculate Conception Cathedral, one of the oldest tourist sites in Puducherry is the cathedral mother church for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore. It is also known as “Samba Kovil”.

The Jesuit Fathers came to the French colony of Pondicherry as missionaries in 1689. They built three churches which were destroyed due to the wars between French and Dutch and later by British. The work on present cathedral began in 1770  and was completed on 20 June 1791. The Church was the consecrated by Bishop Champenois. The Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary, Fest of this Church, falls on the 8th of December.  Mass services are conducted in Tamil and English.

Christmas rushSince we were not going inside the church, the next agenda for the evening was a lavish dinner treat to our hosts at a French restaurant….Christmas festivities everywhere had elevated our moods as well but the rush at restaurant brought us crashing down to mother earth……

None of us had remembered to make reservations at the restaurant beforehand….but that is where we wanted to dine so we stuck around waiting for seats to be vacated. It was a long-long  wait but the delicious food made the wait worthwhile!

Our short vacation ended too soon. I would have loved to explore Pondicherry…..its French colonial houses, avenues, promenade, guesthouses, churches, beaches….May be next time with more time on hand we will .

Au revoir Puducherry !!


About shoma abhyankar

I like to believe that I am a creative person. I read, write, paint, sketch, rustle up some quick and some elaborate meals for friends and family, love chess, su-doku and scrabble, can hum an old Hindi song tentatively, always stand up for women rights, hate fake people, bugs, roaches, spiders and cigarette smokers!! I graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Architecture in 1998. Soon after, I married an officer in Indian Air Force and have been on move since then. For a brief time of two years when we were posted in Pune, I worked as a junior architect in a firm. Being aware of frequent movement that we would have to live with, I chose to be a homemaker and concentrated on creating a warm and welcoming home for my family. But sitting at home without any creative activity was not my cup of tea. I learnt candle making and soon put up an exhibition at Poona Club when my daughter was barely a year old. I also enjoyed a short stint as a home-based entrepreneur, supplying chocolates and cakes on demand, while we were posted in Bareilly. With an inclination towards writing, I completed a diploma in ‘Creative Writing in English’ from Symbiosis College of Distance Learning, Pune. Then I discovered the blogosphere. Now I hope to not only travel and share my experiences with the world but also to pen a book someday....
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4 Responses to Christmas in Puducherry

  1. Alok Singhal says:

    I have read a lot about Pondicherry (erstwhile).

    Hope you get to go back again soon…and me too, for the first time!


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