Friday, 2 February 2007

Christmas in Nagaland

Yes, I do know that the calendar says February 2nd 2007. But since there is quite a bit of time lag on my weblog it is now time to show a bit from our Christmas in Nagaland.

As Naga is India's by far most Christian state it is a very good and atmospheric place to celebrate Christmas. Above you see Susanna at the entrance to her parent's house beautifully decorated for the holidays.

Nagaland is very inspired by Western celebrations of Christmas, particularly America since missionaries from the US were the main force behind the christianisation of the Nagas. As it is custom in the West, Nagas also have colourfully decorated Christmas trees, but the Scandinavian tradition of dancing in a big circle around the tree is not known and considered odd when I tell about it.

On Christmas Eve day downtown Dimapur is in a balloon frenzy, with salesmen competing to make it first to cars stopping to buy balloons. As far as I know the association of balloons with Christmas is unique to here. In Denmark at least balloons are used for birthdays and other parties, but not for Christmas.

Part of the Christmas dinner ready to be prepared.

We celebrated Christmas Eve at the family's lovely rooftop terrace. The weather in Dimapur is pleasant and mild at Christmas time, so it's wonderful to be outside. As you see above we started it off with a friendly game the name of which I have forgotten. I had, however, already asserted my inferiority in this game a few days earlier so I chose to stay out of it. The guy to the right is Lima, Magdalene's husband who joined us all in Dimapur shortly before Christmas.

Before we went to Nagaland I had promised to make a traditional Danish dish for Christmas: Ris A'la Mande (supposed to sound french, but it is in fact uniquely Danish) seen in the picture above. This is a type of rice porridge with cream, chopped almonds and vanilla served cold with hot cherry sauce. It is a very delicious dish for the sweet tooth and perhaps more than any other food associated with Christmas in the mind of any Danish person. Although it is a deeply foreign dish to Nagas, who don't traditionally have much a sweet tooth anyway, Susanna's whole family politely tasted it, and it even seemed like the enjoyed it. But perhaps they were not so much motivated by the taste, but by the fact that Ris A'la Mande contains one (or in this case two) whole almond(s) with a prize for whomever finds it. Elizabeth and Lima were the two lucky winners, but after both almonds had been found, takers for second portions did seem to disappear .

At least Ina looked like she was enjoying the Ris A'la Mande.

At the roof top the whole family sat around a nice bonfire. The previous pictures were all taken with flash, but this one shows the real atmosphere of Christmas eve.

The girls playing. Recognise the girl to the right? That is Akia who you might have seen before in this post. The whole family from Meghalaya had come to Dimapur so we met up late in the evening.

Later guitars were brought out.

Ina posing with a guitar.

10 minutes later, Ina asleep with the guitar.

Christmas Day - the girls ready to go to church.


Alison said...

It looks like a lovely Christmas (with the possible exception of the big's head). I'd love to be able to have a bon fire on my patio!

joan said...

These pictures are wonderful! I grew up in Shillong many years ago.

My brother is in Shillong still. His link is: Cultural Pursuits

joan said...

Oh - the game is carrom.

Esben said...

Yes, Alison very lovely Christmas (and very different).

Joan,thanks for the comment (and the link on your blog). And thanks for the tip on "carrom". Will update that when I get to decent Internet connection. Currently in Kathmandu on a very slow connection.