Beef cutlet for a brown Christmas

Christmas with Midnight Mass, coats, mufflers and gloves, as we sing carols with the youth group at our local parish. Christmas at highschool full of delicious pastries, cakes, the thinnest potato chips, chocolates, chole-bhature, bread rolls, patties, samosa and everything yummy that my classmates got to school for our class party in Delhi. Christmas of the indulgent vegetarian meal, our getaway from the ghastly mess food at design school, Ahmedabad. Christmas with meditation and songs around a bonfire, in Auroville. Christmas of the endless decorations, glistening stars, shimmering tinsel and rustic crib at home with my sisters, in Kerala. Christmas with a party of joyful chatter, eclectic food, wine and merriment with my Punjabi-Hindu husband and family of friends, in Mumbai. Christmas that is as Indian as I am. Not white. A gorgeous, Indian brown Christmas, as old as time.
As a kid I would envy my sister Chris her name, for the rather straightforward, easy-to-place identity it gave her. I struggled to explain to many that it is possible to be Christian and Malayali at the same time. I would explain that in South India some of us have been Christians since the 1st century. That’s about 2000 years ago. Which means there were Christians in India way before any of the Empires in Europe had even heard of Christianity. Before the Gupta Empire was established, before the Mughals, Portuguese or British ever came to India. So no, we were not converted by the British. No, we do not wear frothy white gowns, or dance gayly to Western music at our weddings. And no, turkey does not figure at our Christmas meals. That’s the Brits you are thinking of. Or Americans at Thanksgiving.

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