Thursday, January 21, 2016

Christmas in India

Many people have asked me what it was like celebrating Christmas in India. In a word, "different," but it was great! I was surprised to see that Indians celebrate Christmas since only about 2% of the population is Christian. But Indians are festive and they like to celebrate. 

Sofia and her cousins woke up very early anticipating Santa's arrival. They were dying to know if Santa would find them in New Delhi. Sofia's 8-year-old cousin Lars had been up since 1 am and Sofia woke up around 3:45 a.m. Our times were still so messed up so it didn't really matter!

They were SO excited that Santa found our hotel, but very disappointed that he didn't bring them lots of gifts like he does at home. Sofia got a Kindle (which she loved - and then lost on the flight home, ugh, that's a story for another day!) After the kids recovered from their "different" Christmas morning, we hit the road for a day of sightseeing.

Our first stop was the Qutb Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world, part of the Qutb Complex of red sandstone temples built by the Muslims in 1200 CE. 

Next we visited a huge Hindu temple - the Chhatarpur Temple in Old Delhi. It was very colorful and decorative. We had to take our shoes off for the whole visit. It was a bit stressful to take off our shoes since we had been cautioned not to wear sandals or open shoes to avoid water-born bacterial infections. So to walk around barefoot in Old Delhi seemed crazy. But, as my sister-in-law commented "When in Rome...." Or in this case, "When in Delhi." We survived and it was worth it.  The temple was beautiful - but very crowded. It kind of felt like Disneyland with long lines of people winding their way through the complex!


Next up on Christmas Day, we went shopping for wedding outfits for Geoff and his brother Bjorn. And then our tour guide delivered us to a great restaurant called the Chicken Inn for lunch. This guy greeted us at the front door!

The food was great and the restaurant was very festive and decorated with pastel balloons covering the ceiling. It felt more like a baby shower than Christmas! They were playing cheesy Christmas music including Alvin and the Chipmunks (the worst!). Remember I said it was a very different Christmas?!

For Christmas dinner we were invited to the home of the groom's parents for a lovely dinner with about 50 people, mostly their family and a few close friends. The hosts were so warm and hospitable and their house - which is like an art museum - was elaborately decorated and so festive. It was an honor to be included. Here are a few pics from the memorable Christmas dinner.

The children were excited because Santa made an appearance...

And so did Gandhi - with his cell phone and adorned with mistletoe!

From Santa to a Muslim world heritage site to a Hindu temple, it was a very different Christmas but fun to experience it in India.

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