Kochi and a New Year
Multitudes throng the seaside pathways left moist by the unquiet growling of the Arabian Sea. Peeping into the sea, proudly stands on the shores Chinese fishing nets, memoirs of city’s glorious past. Over every building, including communist offices and Hindu Temples, clings on a star echoing the festive spirit of Kochiites. Over the streets are scattered Christmas Cribs and twinkling lights aligning in beautiful patterns. On either sides of streets, plastic glitters creep into the ropes welcoming everyone to the biggest celebration of Kochiites. The remnants of the Christmas celebration have not yet sublimed, yet the air was smelling of the New Year celebration.
Walking through the pathways clogged by street vendors, I sailed through the crowd loosing myself into the celebration. The brine scented wind breezed through the streets smoked up with automobile exhausts. To free myself from the clamor of urban life, I set out for the celebrating New Year in the soul of Kochi, Fort Kochi. Well to feel the soul of Kochi, I got into a boat, on my journey to Fort Kochi. Looking back, far behind the trails of the boat, I saw the beauty of unclothed Kochi, garnished by dusky sunrays. Reaching Fort Kochi Jetty, I left the boat and the crowd in search of food, art and Kochi. As an ardent lover art and culture, I walked into Aspinwall House, which was one of the centres of Kochi-Muziris Biennale, an international festival of contemporary art. Over the walls, sprouted graffiti arts and cultural prototypes reflecting the cultural ethos of Kochi.
Carol gangs snaked through the busy streets playing various songs. The colonial past of the city is still visible as the European architecture of the buildings imprinted on either sides of Fort Kochi roads. Kochi is one of the few cities in India to have native settlers of Jain, Jew, Hindu , Muslim and Christianity, adding communism too ,which is quite visible from the names of places, food items and posters on walls. On the beach, stands a large effigy of Santa Claus, popularly known as Pappani in Kochi. The bearded Santa, rather Pappani, was smiling at the city from its eyes placed yards away from the ground.. The rusted wood roofed the food stalls scattered all around the place. Search for taste of Kochi brought me to Ahmed’s Shop. Dosa, an Indian bread made from rice flour, and beef curry, brilliant rather exotic combination.
Thousands were dancing to musical concerts running parallel to massive celebrations across the city. And as the countdown started for the New Year, around the effigy thousands gathered. And they lit fire to the Santa Claus as a sign of bidding farewell to all sorrows and miseries of the bygone year. Over the skies of Kochi, fireworks scripted the welcoming of the New Year.
A new year to Kochi. It may be the only city in the world to burn Santa Claus effigy for New Year. Yet may be the only city to have New Year as its most celebrated fest.