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Kerala set for X’mas

Thiruvananthapuram : Well-lit Christmas trees, illuminated churches with stars of various sizes, fairs, organised carols, homemade cakes, wines and pickles… Kerala is in a buoyant mood as Christmas is round the corner.

Central Kerala’s Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Idukki, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts – home to a large number of Christians who make up 22 percent of the state’s 32 million population – celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with maximum fanfare.
Irrespective of residents’ religion, houses sport a star, and a well-lit miniature Christmas tree just cannot be missed.
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.
It is mostly during this time that churches across Kerala get a fresh coat of paint and by the second week, most churches get illuminated and stars of various sizes are put up.
“Small fairs are arranged by individual churches or by a group of churches and homemade food items like cakes, wines and pickles are sold. People get more time to mingle with one another,” said retired teacher 60-year-old Annie Thomas.
Said Jessy Jacob, a housewife in Kochi: “We have made wine with grapes and another set using pineapple. On Christmas eve, we distribute the homemade wine to our close friends and relatives.”
Clubs, churches and students get going with carols with increased vigour.
“The youth now wait for the Christmas season so carols are ready. Several people have organised carols and the entire money that is collected goes for charity,” said a retired Christian priest.
On the economy side, a sign of a prosperous and a happy Christmas is always linked to the market price of rubber because the central districts have the largest number of small rubber growers.
“Last year, the price was Rs.204 a kg and this time it is marginally down at Rs.198 a kg. So things are not bad despite an all-round price hike of essential items,” said retired banker Kurian Jacob, a small rubber farmer in Kottayam.
With non-vegetarian dishes the main item during Christmas, the prices of chicken and fish have gone up.
“The most sought after fish like pomfret and seer have become expensive at Rs.350/kg and Rs.400/kg respectively. Chicken is now priced at Rs.85 per kg. Beef is now Rs.170/kg,” said Shiny Cherian, a housewife in Thiruvananthapuram.
State-owned Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) – the sole wholesalers of liquor in the state – has stocked its shops and warehouses with more than adequate supply of liquor.
According to estimates, sales of liquor for this month are expected to be close to Rs.550 crore.