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Passing Through India
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A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn)
by LG on 

Happy New Year.  I got to 2006 a half day faster than I would have if I'd just stayed home.

 

Yesterday I spent the day cruising the balmy, palmy backwaters of Kerala, watched men in mini-skirts play tug-of-war and, and saw a 10m-high Santa Claus burned in celebratory effigy.  Yup, just your usual New Year's Eve.

 

Kerala is famous for its backwaters - canals through tropical palm swamps.  You ride through on a boat that is piloted by two gondoliers who use bamboo poles to drive the craft.  It's all really quite peaceful.  I wish we'd had a bit more instruction from our driver/guide (e.g. One of my fellow passengers: "What is that white flower?"  Guide: "That is called 'white flower.'") but it was still great to pick out our own sights: white eagles, iridescent kingfishers and, of course, the local life on the shore.  I don't know why I'm so captivated by seeing people do their wash in the river but I am.  We probably saw a half-dozen methods of fishing on the trip.

 

The highlight of the day was probably lunch.  We stopped on a small peninsula and feasted on South Indian fare, all laid out on a banana leaf as a plate.  The menu consisted of big fluffy rice, watery stew called samber, fried rounds of bead, mango pickle, and two vegetable dishes, one of which I think was cooked in coconut milk.  The place is truly swimming with coconuts.  Of course we ate with our hands which is pretty normal here.  It's a bit of a tricky mental adaptation but it does make you feel a bit more involve with your meal.  It's just funny to get pruny fingers from a half-hour of eating.

 

We returned to Ft. Kochi, inspired by rumors of big beach-side festivities for New Year's; parties that might serve coconut beer which is a local delicacy that is made from the naturally fermented sap (ok, maybe it's not really sap but it's some sort of internal juice) that is tapped from the trees.  It turned out that the beer was not to be had - or, at least, not to be found, but I did get in a good walk around town before nightfall.  I gave a few rupees to kids dressed up as Santa who were trick-or-treating (for lack of a more precise term), and then watched some of the locals as they played Indian pinata and an inspired few rounds of tug-of-war in the region's traditional dhoti wraps.  In the background, a giant Christmas-cum-New Year's tree towered over a local park, festooned with stars and streamers.

 

Aside from occasional fireworks that people were shooting off, there wasn't much build up to the final countdown to midnight.  In fact, I don't think there was any of the 10-9-8 - stuff, unless it was in Malayalam and I didn't understand it.  It was funny to not have any contact with the outside world at the time; I'm so accustomed to watching TV and seeing what's happening in other cities in other time zones.  At the stroke of 12, a giant Santa Claus structure was set on fie on the beach.  Throughout the evening we heard about this immolation of St. Nick but I just couldn't believe that was the tradition here in Kerala which maintains its strong Portuguese and Dutch Christian heritage.  I asked a lady at my hotel why they do it - bear in mind that my hotel has Psalms as decoration and an eerie red-light-lit framed photo of Jesus - and she said it wasn't a Christian tradition but has evolved by mischief makers here in town.  Well, whatever the story is, it was probably the first and only time I'll see the old year pass in such a fashion.

 

After the big burning, a bunch of us headed back to the restaurant bar and tried to make an evening of it.  Mostly a British group, they kept the beer coming - which is served here with a nod and a wink in tea pots (so you have to order the "special tea" if you want beer).  Despite the big crows of locals in dhotis (India seems to have a special advantage in rallying huge crowds of people), the sound of tabla drums and the flutes I associate with snake-charming in the background, and the fishy smell from the seashore, it all seemed very Western for a time.  I decided it was time to call it a night when I began to seriously discuss doing a modern-day stagecoach trip across Europe with one of the Brits who's planning such an endeavor.

 

A very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2006 to all.

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RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by dimpyroy1090 on

I liked the post very much. Kerela is scuh a beautiful city. As i know it is also called "God's own Country". Places like ernakulam, thrissur, wayanad are very exotic. One should visit these places once in a lifetime. Hotels in thrissur are very good in services and amenities.

visit http://www.ixigo.com/hotels-in-trichur-lp-1143820 for more about thrissur hotels.



RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by dimpyroy1090 on

I liked the post very much. Kerela is scuh a beautiful city. As i know it is also called "God's own Country". Places like ernakulam, thrissur, wayanad are very exotic. One should visit these places once in a lifetime. <a href="http://www.ixigo.com/hotels-in-trichur-lp-1143820">Hotels in thrissur</a> are very good in services and amenities.



RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by Bus Booking on

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RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by Tarun From New Delhi on

It was a Pleasure to read the experience you had in Kerala, It reminded me of Mine the breath taking view and experience of Back Water and boating cruise in . And i loved the Place Fort Kochi with the Old Dutch style buildings in White and Blue paint and coconut trees all around,and Chinese Giant Fish Nets were a beautiful Site.  


Trichy to Kerala by Trichy on

As the New year has passed, we expect great news in kerala and Tamil Nadu. Especially in the cities of Chennai, Trichy, trivandrum etc.


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Kerala Hoseboats by anooplive on

i spent my las6t summer vacation in Alleppey houseboat. That everlasting memories of Alleppey  forcing me to make a comment here; dn't forget to make a entry in your future travel destination list. Wishing a happy travel to everyone



RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by Raz on

Awesome post and I was 6 years late to read this ... lol ... anyways Kerala is such a beautiful state and loved every part of it when I was there last New Year. Kerala backwaters are highly recommended and should be on anyone's list who is visiting India. If you are still not convinced, visit this special feature and I'm sure you'll pack your bags :)-http://www.discoveringindia.net/our-team-picks-kerala/


RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by Singapore to Malacca on

Thanks for the great post as many times I have seen that people read and apply without understanding the entire concept behind each thing.   


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RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by Jailbreak iPhone 4 Verizon on

Wow thanks for giving us the insights of 2005 in your country and blog!


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RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by julin2020 on


Kerala is one of the beautiful city specially climate of the city is just amazing for the foreigners. And its also very famous for the Spa Therapy and the oil massage one can get.

http://www.traveladda.com/zone/East_india.html

RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by Jonas Jacobsen on

I love Kerala. It's one of my favourite places in India. Look here for more info about kerala: http://www.wildplanettours.com/travel/tour/destination/central-india/major-cities/agra/agra/india

or here for my top ten list of places in India: http://www.wildplanettours.com/travel/tour/top-ten-cities-india/india

 


RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by Jeet on

Kerala is know as God's own country. It is amazing amalgamation of people and nature. I am looking forward to exploring trip there.


RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by Luxury hotel kerala on

Nice Post. Its an unique way to celebrate new year. Very hilarious post. I like the new structure of Santa.


RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by Singapore to Malacca on

In fact, I think this is an unique and special way in which new year is celebrated in Fort Kochi with the giant Sant set on fire at sharp 12. In spite of all there are some other carnivals too that are a being part of new year time in Fort Kochi.


RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by Singapore to Malacca on

In fact, I think this is an unique and special way in which new year is celebrated in Fort Kochi with the giant Sant set on fire at sharp 12. In spite of all there are some other carnivals too that are a being part of new year time in Fort Kochi.


RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by myspainholidays on

Very nice post. Just enjoyed reading it. It was hilarious to read about Santa Claus structure that was set on fire.


RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by shefali26 on

Kerala is known for its beautiful scenery, beaches, greenery, houseboats and food. Its traditional clothing is very attractive. Wish You Happy New Year.


RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by David on

I remember the food that I had in Fort Kochi, the fish curry and squid was absolutely delicious, the best thing I liked about Fort Kochi was the food

 


RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by jassica on

There are So many  serene backwaters in Kerala But

Cochin,

Alappuzha

Kollam

  Are the main backwaters


http://www.india-keralatours.com/

RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year (or Burn Santa Burn) by Travel India on

Hi,
Well this is a special way in which new year is welcomed in FortKochi with the giant Sant set on fire at sharp 12. But this is surely not a Christian custom it is a local practice of people from Fort Kochi, while there are various carnivals too that are a part of new year time in Fort Kochi.

Hope you had a great time here.
Regards!


RE: A Very Merry Kerala New Year by El Guapo Ben on

Good to hear you're not dead. I'll be in Richmond around President's Day, so if you're around we should play Scrabble and drink good whiskey.

 
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