'God's Own Country,' Kerela, succumbs to the Christmas spirit

Kerala, sometimes known as the Christian belt, is visibly affected by the Christmas bug...
( [email protected] ) Dec 19, 2003 10:46 AM EST

Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India., Dec. 18 - Kerala, known popularly as 'God's Own Country' to the tourists may not quite expect the White Christmas that fairy tales are made of, but, the people living there have no complaints as the hot sultry summer is giving way to deliciously cool nights. And, that is more than enough for a festive mood.

It is the season for cheer and the mercury has been dipping almost on cue, particularly in central Kerala, sometimes known as the Christian belt.

Bonfires can actually be seen spreading their cosy warmth in the region.

Another reason for cheer has been the steady price of rubber for the past three months. The price remains in the Rs 50 per kg region.

"Christmas this time appears to bring back the lost glory of yesteryears with the nights becoming cold and early mornings getting colder still. Today, morning bonfires to drive away the cold are a common sight in villages in central Kerala," said KC Jacob, a farmer in Kottayam district.

"The early morning chill not only gives us a freshness, it is excellent for the rubber trees as there is an increase in the flow of rubber latex if the trees are tapped early", noted a rubber farmer cheerfully.

On Tuesday, Kottayam recorded its lowest ever temperature of 17.6 degrees Celsius in eight years. The chill has also brought cheer to the older generation getting ready to relive the Christmas of yesteryears.

"Though my husband and I don't really like the chill because our weak and frail bodies cannot take it anymore, we feel we are going back to the good old days when Christmas time was really cold," said 70-year-old Chinnama Mathew in Thiruvalla recalling Christmas, two decades ago.

But Chinnama and her husband have a complaint. People are too busy and not many have the time to visit old relatives. "We have started receiving Christmas cards especially from our grandchildren. If the cards arrive early then the signals are clear - they won't be arriving to spend Christmas holidays with us," she said. But there is enough bustle around to keep them busy.

Churches are getting ready for the big day and Christmas carol practice has already begun.