|Children make merry in the rally on the opening day. Picture by Chinlop Fudong Lepcha|
Kalimpong, Dec. 18: The five-day Kalimpong Carol Festival, which began here today, set the mood for Christmas celebrations in the subdivision, which has the highest number of Christians in the district.
The festival began with a huge rally, which started from the town hall and converged at Damber Chowk, after taking a detour through 10th Mile.
Members of various Christian communities turned up at the rally in their traditional costumes. Father Santa with a sack full of goodies did the star turn and was mobbed by children along the route. As the procession meandered through the busy thoroughfares of the town, the people sang Christmas carols and wished each other.
Later, at the specially constructed dias in the heart of the town, choir groups, including one from Gandhi Ashram here, regaled the gathering with more soothing hymns. Senior Christian leader Chatra Paul Subba explained the significance of Christmas. The carol singing, of course, will continue, beginning at 5 pm, for the next four days.
The festival is being organised by 71 different Christian organisations, active in the subdivision, under the banner of Kalimpong United Christian Minorities Society. Apart from carol singing, Nepali folk dances were also performed.
However, the highlights of this year’s festival will be Tibetan and Japanese dances put up by local troupes.
With a sizeable portion of the Christian population joining the programme, the Yuletide spirit can be felt in the town. In fact, tourists were also seen soaking in the pre-Christmas festivities.
“Today’s procession reminded me of my visit to Goa in 2003 around Christmas time. The difference between the two is only in the scale of the celebration, the spirit remains the same,” said Manoj Sardesai, a visitor from Nagpur.