*2023 Christmas market in Ranchi
Peppy, foot-tapping music fills the air. The tunes are familiar, the words are not, but it hardly matters. It is on the eve of merry Christmas and light is looming though it is not even late evening.
The cold air is fragrant carrying whiffs of roasting chestnuts, baked goodies, cake, spiced mulled ice cream and Santa Claus dressed receptionist and other unidentified delectable aromas.
It feels like I’ve stepped back in time: All around are people dressed in smart clothes, hawking horns, caps, furs and handmade iron tools, playing wooden instruments and selling plastic Christmas trees.
The Christmas Market on the main road near GEL Church market, about 30 minutes southwest of Ranchi city in Jharkhand, is a surreal experience. At the heart of Catholic or GEL Church are the fort walls with a massive light and roadside markets that lead to the Firayalal - Albert Ella Chowk square where the Christmas Market is held alongside a regular Christmas market every year.
These are surrounded by the town’s other landmarks: four medieval churches over 200 half-timbered houses. While the rest of the market has bright beautiful lights, the main road market near Sarjana chowk is shining, lit with candles, oil lamps and charcoal fires in keeping with the theme.
There are pelt-clothed traders, costumed craftsmen, role-playing traditional blacksmiths, felt-makers, leather makers and wood carvers. In one nook, an archery stall encourages people to try their hand at shooting.
Elsewhere, I am drawn by a cauldron bubbling away with red mulled wine where I get mug full of the coffee. It is hot, subtly spiced, flavourful and potent, burning a delicious path, just the thing for the chill that hangs in the air.
Next door, a couple work a blazing wood fire oven, selling maisfladen, a kind of pizza made with corn and topped with onions, carrots and lamb. It goes perfectly with the mulled chocolate flavour drink. All around me, people mill about, downing copious amounts of mulled cake, while conversations flow and the tempo of the music gradually rises.
Clearly, it is the event of the year and I can detect several languages apart from Jharkhand. The people, young and old belonging to Christianity, seem happy, celebrating the winter festival of Merry Christmas.
Remarkable is an exchange of greetings on this festive occasion of Christmas by Hindus and Muslims as well. Indeed Christmas is the only time of year in which one can sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of socks. Enjoy!
JharkhandStateNews is of the view that Christmas is mostly for children. But we adults can enjoy it too, until the credit card bills arrive. Eat. Drink. Be Merry. Have a wonderful Christmas!