Festivals in India are a real deal! Be it Diwali, Eid, Navratri or even Christmas. Christmas is one of the most fun-filled times of the year. There is contagious happiness and excitement in the air. Holidays get planned, parties are organized and people are hopeful of a happier new year ahead. Well, Christmas celebrations in India are very different from the rest of the world. However, that does not imply that India does not celebrate Christmas well. Ever heard of Bow Barracks in Kolkata? Here’s why Christmas celebrations in Bow Barracks should be on your bucket list this year!
How it all started
Let me take you back to the history of Bow Barracks. After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, India came under the direct rule of the British Empire. People from Britain had started arriving in India in great numbers. There were soldiers, doctors, engineers and officials. Many British men ended up marrying Indian women. The children born out of this wedlock were of both British and Indian origin and were known as Anglo Indians. And back in the day, Anglo-Indians held important official posts as well as a majority of clerical jobs.
After India gained independence in 1947, many Anglo Indians returned to countries like the UK, the USA, Canada and Australia. But many remained back. And this is how Bow Barracks grew in size and numbers. It is now a mini India and with Bengali, Gujarati, Chinese families residing in complete harmony.
Bow Barracks now
The narrow lanes of Bow Barracks can be easily identified because of the legendary three-storeyed red-bricked buildings on either side. The green window frames add a rustic medieval charm to the place and as soon as you step into Bow Barracks, you are transported to a different era with Elvis Presley, John Lennon songs playing in the background.
The Anglo Indian community is a close-knit one. The calm and quiet of this place amidst the mad chaos in Central Avenue and Chandni just a few blocks away is mind-boggling. Every year on Christmas, the entire place is decorated with streamers, balloons, lights, snowflakes, silver bells and Chinese lanterns.
What to do on Christmas in Bow Barracks
While this may sound extremely strange, but then again this is the beauty of a festival, right! People living in Bow Barracks prepare cakes, cookies and homemade wine and offer it to anyone ringing their doorbell. You can be a complete stranger in the area and you will be fed and taken care of like a family guest. This makes Bow Barracks one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in Kolkata.
Happiness here is contagious. Not once will you feel like an outsider! There’s lots of food and lots and lots of good food. There is wine, some home-cooked biryani, kebabs, desserts, finger-licking fish fries, and the list does not end here. Such is the spirit of Christmas in Bow Barracks. They share the joy of Christmas with anyone and everyone who visits them.
You will see people dancing their heart out in Bow Barracks on Christmas, and it does not matter how terrible a dancer you are, you must shake a leg with them. You must dance the night away because this will be one of your best memories at Bow Barracks.
Where Santa comes riding a rickshaw
What’s Christmas without a Santa! Here the red-robed Santa comes riding a typical Kolkata hand-pulled rickshaw. It could not get any more Indianized. Sledges are too mainstream, so why not a hand-pulled rickshaw!
A few pointers
- Christmas festivities start at Bow Barracks from 23rd December and continue till 1st January.
- Street parties, housie games, goody baskets and Christmas feasts are all arranged by collecting money from each household in the area.
- Dancing starts late in the evening. Couple dancing is quite a hit here and the paper dance for couples is an absolute favorite.
- Keep your eyes on the posters for various programs pasted on the walls that also include Christmas Ball and 2 days of the floodlight soccer tournament.
What makes Bow Barracks so special
The best part, however, is that the community celebrates the joy of Christmas with everyone who visits Bow Barracks. The community also celebrates Christmas with the lesser privileged children of the society, irrespective of their religion. Food and gifts are distributed and various games are arranged for these children.
A place tucked in the heart of Kolkata, the joy of celebrating Christmas here is unmatched. Christmas here feels homely and leaves you with a warm feeling that you cherish for days on end. Bow Barracks makes you feel part of the bigger family here. No one is alone and hungry on Christmas at Bow Barracks.
How to reach Bow Barracks
Bow Barracks is just behind the Bowbazar Police Station. For a comfortable travel experience, book a Savaari taxi with us and don’t let those late hours of dancing come in the way of a great celebration like this one.
Last Updated on July 30, 2020 by Harpreet Janeja