Christmas News

‘Sweets seem to break down the barriers between communities’: Chef and food writer Rajyasree Sen
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

Sweets are a quintessential part of Indian cuisine, with no occasion complete without people enjoying a decadent dessert. From north to south and east to west, the country boasts of varied sweets, each with its unique flavour. Chronicling this love for sweets in India and their rich history is chef, food writer and columnist Rajyasree Sen’s The Sweet Kitchen: Tales and Recipes of India’s Favourite Desserts.The author, who believes “sweets seem to break down the barriers between communities”, says “Hindus crave some creamy sheermal, or Punjabis ask their Bengali friends and acquaintances to make them misti doi or the fact that Muslim cooks bake Christmas cake in Kolkata which are then bought by Bengalis to celebrate a Christian festival” seem to highlight that “when it comes to desserts and mithai, suddenly — maybe conveniently — the barriers drop away”.Buy Now | Our best subscription plan now has a special priceIn an exclusive interaction with indianexpress.com, Sen — who got motivated by this all-encompassing nature of sweets in India to celebrate and explore them further — opened up about her book, significance of sweets in the country, interesting facts, food experiments, regional sweets and more.Excerpts:What is The Sweet Kitchen: Tales and Recipes of India’s Favourite Desserts all about?This isn’t a recipe book; although there are a few recipes sprinkled through it. This is a book about the cultural and historical influences on sweets in India. I hope this will introduce readers to at least a tasting menu of the innumerable sweets which define so many parts of India. I have tried to include sweets from every region, and hope that readers delve into the genesis of each sweet, understanding how its location determines its ingredients, and acknowledging the historical and cultural influences which helped create it. This is definitely not a definitive guide to all the sweets of India, but I hope this book is able to provide readers with a sufficient serving of anecdotes, history, and recipes to tickle their interests, if not their palates.How significant, do you think, are sweets in Indian cuisine?In India, sweets are a satisfying finale to even a sometimes less than sumptuous meal — the perfect ending which stays with you. We eat sweets to commemorate every occasion, joyful or otherwise. Payesh, or rice cooked in sweetened milk, is the first spoon of solid food that a Bengali child tastes during annaprashan or the rice-feeding ceremony. Shradhhas and chauthas, the Hindu rituals of mourning, are not complete without a sweet dish — usually sandesh or barfi, depending on which part of India you’re in. Every ritual and religious ceremony is marked by sweets specifically prepared for that occasion, such as the modak during Ganesh Chaturthi. The concept of ‘muh meetha karo‘, which loosely translates to ‘sweeten your palate’, is a tradition and a sign of Indian hospitality, which cannot be rebuffed, regardless of whether you have a sweet tooth or not!The book elaborates on some interesting tales and the origins of famous Indian sweets. Can you share a few?Have we ever wondered how many of the desserts we consider staples of India, actually made their way to our shores thanks to the Persians, the Mughals, the Portuguese and the French? While I knew that a sweet had been created for Lady Canning in Bengal, I had no idea which Mughal emperor to thank for bringing halwa to India, or the Sikh connection to the creation of the kaju barfi, or that you can, indeed, make sweets with meat and eggs in India. I have also tried to demystify the very controversial subject of whether Bengal made the rosogolla first, or whether the credit for that sweet spongey roundel of cottage cheese actually goes to Odisha. And that Daulat ki Chaat, the airy churned milk dessert available only during the cold winters of North India, has a Mongol provenance. Or why chhana or cottage cheese is not used in making sweets by almost any other community other than Bengalis and Oriyas and why most communities in India don’t use yoghurt – the reasons provide a deep insight into cultural beliefs and practices in India.Food experiments have become quite common nowadays. What’s your take on them?I’m quite a purist when it comes to food. So I think a blancmange should look and taste like a blancmange, and a biryani should be non-vegetarian. I cannot bear creations like phuchka with whiskey or chocolate sauce. So I steer clear of these “innovations”. I did have a pizza made on a cauliflower pizza base, and I almost burst into tears realising that this indeed was the end of days. Just eat your cauliflower separately and eat your pizza sauce separately. These are grave injustices against the palates of the discerning.Do you think people are now more experimental when it comes to trying new dishes/cuisines?I think that the pandemic helped this cause greatly. So many home chefs specialising in regional cuisines popped up and many are still doing business. Suddenly, you have your pick of Assamese, Naga, Bengali, Oriya, Malay, and Thai cuisines to choose from. Most of these are made by people who are from the states these cuisines come from – and are extremely tasty. I also think people are far more adventurous about trying lesser-known cuisines nowadays. What I do wish is that hotels and restaurants didn’t claim they were serving a certain unique local dish and then you try a bite and you realise that it’s nothing like the original. This is a great disservice both to the community and to the customer.The book touches upon the influence of various rulers on Indian sweets. Can you elaborate?Well, the Christmas cake which has become part and parcel of our lives from Bengal to Hyderabad to Goa. We definitely didn’t come up with it. Gajar ka halwa has a Dutch connection, and the word “halwa” comes from the Arabic word “hulw“, which means “sweet”. The thirteenth-century Arab text, Kitab al-Tabikh, written by Muhammad ibn al-Hasan Ibn al-Karim, is the first known text to mention halwa with eight different recipes of halwa. The jalebi has as twisted a provenance as its shape. The jalebi as we know it in India is a version of the West Asian zolabiya or zalabiya, which was introduced to India by Turkish and Persian traders and artisans. In Iran, zalabiya is served during festivals, especially at iftar gatherings during Ramzan.Which Indian sweet do you enjoy the most, personally?Shockingly, I’m not a big fan of Indian sweets, especially Bengali sweets. But I love a warm gulab jamun and also a nicely made, thin and not too sweet jalebi.Apart from India, which other country serves some of the most interesting and delicious sweets, according to you?I think France of course, with its entremets, millefeuille, madeleines, choux pastry. Just name it. If you have a taste for Oriental sweets, Thailand does have a few worth trying. But I do believe that the spread, innovativeness and variety of sweets in India, are unmatched elsewhere.📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!

‘Sweets seem to break down the barriers between communities’: Chef and food writer Rajyasree Sen
The silver connect
Navhind Times | 7 months ago | |
Navhind Times
7 months ago | |

Circle of Grey is an online space for those 60 and over that is buzzing with positivity, friendship, laughter, games, new opportunities, and exciting eventsCHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZIt was under the shadow of the pandemic that the Circle of Grey first began to take root.With ‘stay home’ becoming the order of the day back in March 2020, an anxious world moved their lives online to a greater scale than before. Schools went online. Work went online. WhatsApp video calls, Google Hangouts, and Zoom became the new buzzwords.It was no different for Maria Menezes and her family. Based in Dubai, Menezes stayed connected to her parents who lived in Goa, through the internet.“When we couldn’t travel, like the rest of the world, we would still be connected very closely through the day. We would play online games, have evening Zoom chats, online birthday celebrations, quizzes, and the works,” she shares.But despite being “so joyfully connected”, Menezes noted an underlying sense of fear brewing steadily in her parents as they worried about when they would all be able to be together again. “I could also hear their unspoken struggle with being house-bound and sense the frustration, boredom, and vulnerability,” she says. “My parents have always been positive, strong, determined, and able to adapt to any situation. Yet, 2020 was playing on their minds – repeatedly telling them that they were on their own. And alone!”And if her parents, who were always so active, positive, and tech-savvy could feel this way, Menezes began pondering about how lonely it must be for other elderly people who didn’t have all that; finally culminating in the birth of Circle of Grey which she started with some close friends. This, she says, is a space where they could continue to meet other like-aged and like-minded people, make new friends, chat, play games, watch movies together, participate in fun activities and continue to live a full socially active life whilst staying safe at home.An online group on Facebook, Circle of Grey is open to all those who are 60-plus, but anyone younger who would like to join is also welcome.This group, says Menezes, focuses on a 360-degree approach to enable well-being for the elderly. “It is not just for social communication but also to give them a platform to meet people as well as learn new things, share talents, attend events like magic shows, comedy shows, movies, games night, conversation round tables, knitting workshops, art workshops, technology workshops, exercise classes, dance and karaoke evenings, workshops on mental health, etc,” she says.Giving us an overview of the weekly schedule of the group, Menezes explains that Mondays typically focus on the body with sharing of information that is vital to keeping the body healthy and active. Tuesdays are devoted to content and topics crucial for ensuring a happy mind. Wednesdays and Thursdays are for music and art respectively. Fun, games, and food are what Fridays are all about while sports and technology rule on Saturdays. Sundays are all about the social aspect of life with celebrations of birthdays, sharing of hobbies, etc.“In addition, we have regular events where we either bring in experts from outside or we host I&M (Inspire and Motivate) that are conducted by some of the members themselves. This gives them the opportunity to learn new things as well as share their talents by teaching others what they are great at,” says Menezes.Last Christmas was also a joyous month-long celebration. “We had a wonderful Christmas Countdown Celebration for every single day of the month that culminated in a New Year online fiesta which was planned so that no one would have to be alone over the New Year,” says Menezes.And over time, a wonderful camaraderie grew between people in the group. “It has been wonderful to see the space nurture so much positivity, and in many ways, it has been an escape from the bleak reality of the past few years. There is always something exciting happening, something to look forward to, something fun to do, or something new to learn. There is no judgement; it is just a celebration of life,” says Menezes.But she admits that they still face the challenge of reaching out to more people who really need this. “Our goal is to be available to whoever can benefit from being part of the group and we want to reach out to all those living alone or retired.”Technology is another challenge with many members struggling with technology and learning their way around social media. “But we continue to empower them with our regular technology workshops and are slowly seeing them grow more and more confident,” she says.Tragically, since starting this initiative, Menezes lost her mother, who was also her co-founder, to COVID-19 last year. “I now hope to reach out to even more people in need in honour of her memory,” she says, adding that they have plans to reach out to retirement homes and extend their services to the residents. “We would also like to eventually have face-to-face interactions. We also hope to be able to collaborate with bigger entities so that we can bring more to our members.”People from this age group are like catalysts, she says. They just need to be around to make us remember what a beautiful, non-judgmental, real, and honest world we can be. “It is our goal to remind them of this, to tell them, not through words but through feelings, that they truly are like beacons of life and we need them, now more than ever. They are, what makes the circle of life, complete.”

The silver connect
Goa: Moreno Rebello, ex-zilla panchayat member from Curtorim, quits BJP 20 days after joining
Times of India | 8 months ago | |
Times of India
8 months ago | |

Margao: Ex-zilla panchayat member from Curtorim, Moreno Rebello, on Thursday resigned from BJP, hardly 20 days after he had joined it with much fanfare. He said he was under tremendous pressure from his supporters and even some members of his family to quit following social media reports of attacks on religious places of the minorities in BJP-ruled states around Christmas time. He said that the recent developments across the country, “especially the atrocities against minorities, created a lot of problems for me, as people began pressurizing me to leave BJP.” “The Christmas midnight sermon finished my peace of mind. I couldn’t enjoy Christmas. It was too much pressure, and I could handle it no more,” he said. With chief minister Pramod Sawant and a host of senior BJP leaders having descended on Curtorim to welcome Rebello into the party fold on December 10, it was obvious that the party would nominate him as its candidate in Curtorim, a Congress bastion. He said local BJP units members approached him and on the assurance of the BJP leadership that they would do his 14 development works he had listed, he joined the ruling party. Rebello said on one hand, BJP didn’t take him into confidence and that the developmental works proposed by him remained unattended. “perhaps, they didn’t take me seriously”. He said that on the other hand, there was huge pressure on him for having joined BJP in the light of the development in other parts of the country “Ever since I joined BJP, there was too much pressure on me, with my supporters questioning my motives. I was getting suffocated. I am now a relieved man,” Rebello told reporters after submitting his resignation. He, however, claimed that he has no immediate plans of joining any other party or of contesting the polls. “I have just pulled myself out of one problem which I had myself created. I want some peace now,” he replied to a question. He said if he had taken personal benefit, he would not have been able to leave BJP. Rebello said he had quit Congress as he was sure that then sitting MLA (Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco) would get the ticket.

Goa: Moreno Rebello, ex-zilla panchayat member from Curtorim, quits BJP 20 days after joining
AAP questions CM’s ‘silence’ on vandalism during Xmas outside state
Navhind Times | 8 months ago | |
Navhind Times
8 months ago | |

Panaji: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has questioned the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant over his stoic silence on the attacks on Christian community and disruption of Christmas festivities in parts of the country.Addressing media persons, AAP’s state convenor Rahul Mhambre demanded that the Sawant-led government condemn the vandalism in some BJP-ruled states and give assurance to the Goan Christian community that such things will never happen in Goa where people from all communities live in complete communal harmony.“BJP has put up hoardings all over the state wishing the community ‘Merry Christmas’ but are turning a blind eye to their government’s failure or unwillingness to protect Christians across the country,” he observed.He asked the chief minister “with what face you wish the community ‘Merry Christmas’ while not uttering a single word against these attacks in BJP-ruled states,” adding, “Even BJP’s Cabinet ministers and MLAs are maintaining stoic silence over the attacks.”“Even Goa BJP’s chief Sadanand Tanawade has put up wishing banners but never ever spoke a word on the attack and vandalisation of statues, disruption of Christmas functions or prayers of that community and asked what assurance and steps have been initiated to convey the message that these things will not happen in our Goa,” he added.He pointed out that the BJP is trying to hide its failures across the country behind its communal agenda adding, “The Chief Minister and ministers are silent on these attacks while sending empty wishes to Goenkars and asked why CM, cabinet ministers and MLAs can’t condemned this instead of putting up empty banners wishing Goenkars ‘Merry Xmas’?”

AAP questions CM’s ‘silence’ on vandalism during Xmas outside state
It’s ‘Christmas Time’
Navhind Times | 8 months ago | |
Navhind Times
8 months ago | |

Musician and song writer Seflo Quadros based in UK has recently released a song called ‘Christmas Time’.Christmas is the time to forgive and to share, says the artiste. “This Christmas song speaks all about togetherness and unity at this special Christmas season, especially now during the hard times we are all going through due to the pandemic,” says Quadros who both penned the lyrics and composed the music for the track.The musician previously released tunes like ‘Merry Merry Christmas’ (in 2020), ‘Hope and Faith’, and ‘Give Me All My Time’ (in June this year).

It’s ‘Christmas Time’
  • In the Christmas spirit
  • Navhind Times

  • A blue Christmas Eve once again
  • Navhind Times

    The spread of Covid-19 forces churches across the world to cancel or scale back services and disrupt travel plans and family gatherings From Bethlehem and Frankfurt to London and Boston, the surging coronavirus put a damper on Christmas Eve for a second year, forcing churches to cancel or scale back services and disrupting travel plans and family gatherings.Drummers and bagpipers marched through Bethlehem — the town where Christians believe Jesus was born — to smaller than usual crowds after new Israeli travel restrictions meant to slow the highly contagious Omicron variant kept international tourists away.In Germany, a line wound halfway around Cologne’s massive cathedral, not for midnight Mass but for vaccinations. The offer of shots was an expression of “care for one’s neighbour” that was consistent with the message of Christmas, cathedral provost Guido Assmann told the DPA news agency.Around the world, people weary from nearly two years of lockdowns and other restrictions searched for ways to enjoy some of the holiday rituals safely.“We can’t let the virus take our lives from us when we’re healthy,” said Rosalia Lopes, a retired Portuguese government worker who was doing some last-minute shopping in the coastal town of Cascais.She said she and her family were exhausted by the pandemic and determined to go ahead with their celebrations with the help of vaccines and booster shots, rapid home tests and mask-wearing in public. She planned a traditional Portuguese Christmas Eve dinner of baked cod.Across the Atlantic in New York City, where Omicron has spread widely, people waited in long lines to get tested, many doing so as a precaution before travelling to reunite with family.But holiday travel was dealt a blow when major airlines cancelled hundreds of flights, in part because of staff shortages largely tied to Omicron.In Britain, where the coronavirus variant is ripping through the population, some houses of worship hoped to press on.At St Paul’s Old Ford, an Anglican church in East London, priests planned to hold services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But to protect parishioners, the church called off its Nativity play.“You might have to cancel the service, but you can’t cancel Christmas,” said Rev April Keech, an associate priest. “You can’t stop love. Love still stands.”Numerous churches in the US cancelled in-person services, including Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital and historic Old South Church in Boston. Others planned outdoor celebrations or a mix of online and in-person worship.In Germany, churchgoers faced a thicket of health restrictions and limits on attendance. Some had to show proof of vaccination or testing.Frankfurt’s cathedral, which can hold 1,200 people, offered only 137 socially distanced spaces, all of which were booked days in advance. Singing was allowed only through masks.People in the Netherlands tried to make the best of the holiday, despite living under one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe. All nonessential shops were closed, including bars and restaurants, and home visits were limited to two people per day, four on Christmas.“We are just meeting with some small groups of family for the next few days,” Marloes Jansen, who was waiting in line to buy the traditional Dutch kerststol, a Christmas bread with fruits and nuts.A glitch in a computerised appointment system prevented scores of people from scheduling Covid-19 tests and undermined the government’s efforts to administer booster shots in a country already lagging far behind its neighbours.In France, some visited loved ones in the hospital. In the Mediterranean city of Marseille, the intensive care unit at La Timone Hospital has been taking in more and more Covid-19 patients in recent days.Amelie Khayat has been paying daily visits to her husband, Ludo, 41, who is recovering from spending 24 days in a coma and on a breathing machine.They touched their heads together as she sat on his bed, and now that he is strong enough to stand, he got up to give her a farewell hug, as a medical worker put final decorations on the ICU Christmas tree.Parisians lined up at chocolate shops, farmers’ markets and testing centres. France has posted record numbers of daily Covid-19 infections, and hospitalisations have been rising, but the government has held off on imposing curfews or closings during the holidays.“It does affect our enthusiasm to celebrate Christmas. It does make us a bit sad. But at least we are sure not to contaminate or get contaminated. We will all do the test in our family,” said Fabienne Maksimovic, 55, as she waited in line at a pharmacy in Paris to get tested.In Antwerp, Belgium, Christmas trees were hung upside down from windows in a protest against the closing of cultural venues.In Bethlehem, the scene was much more festive than it was a year ago, when musicians marched through empty streets. This year, hundreds of people gathered in Manger Square as bagpipe-and-drum units streamed through.Before the pandemic, Bethlehem would host thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world. The lack of visitors has hit the city’s hotels, restaurants and gift shops especially hard.(AP)

  • It’s a Holly Jolly Christmas
  • Navhind Times

    After a low-key Christmas last year, a few Goans tell us how they will ring in Christmas celebrations this yearChristmas has always been a double celebration. We first commemorate and celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Saviour who was born over 2000 years ago. But, each and every Christian also celebrates His Second Coming by improving the quality of his/her life and that of others, especially the poor, and those who are disadvantaged. The pandemic, indeed, put a clog to the first type of celebrations but it also gave several opportunities for each one to reach out to such persons in these difficult moments. So, I’ll be celebrating Christmas, by doubling my joy in service to the poor, even though I personally will have to sacrifice a great deal. That’s the true Spirit of Christmas, which means joy, peace, love and justice!!Fr Frank Mendes, SanguemChristmas has always been special with its pomp and colour. The pandemic did disrupt the festive mood last year, but this year seems more Christmassy to me. There will be more family members together than last year. Hopefully we will meet a few friends, though the Omicron scare is present. Being a Covid-19 survivor has definitely given me a reason to celebrate my second life. This Christmas is definitely special to me and my family.Emera Remedios, SaligaoChristmas for me this year is a bit different, because before the pandemic could hit we used to have a grand celebration. But for the past two years it’s been like a casual celebration. Restrictions in church, no visitors at home. But this year there’s a slight change. At my home we have prepared a lot of Christmas sweets, invited people, there is a different kind of joy than the previous year. But, yes, of course we are following all kinds of COVID-19 related norms.Alisha Menezes, DivarThis year we are celebrating Christmas together with our family and friends (with masks and social distancing). Happy to be alive, well and healthy, we will be cherishing the memories of some of us who didn’t make it through 2021 and lost their fight to COVID-19.Priyanka D’Cunha, PorvorimThis year also we are celebrating Christmas like every other year. We have made sweets, decorated the home, stitched new clothes, etc. Also this year we are distributing sweets to each and every bereaved Catholic family since the pandemic, the responsibility of which I’ve taken. The greatest joy for me this year is that my brother has made it for Christmas from Bengaluru.Agnes Pinto, VascoI will be enjoying Christmas like always. Going for midnight mass and having the traditional cake and coffee. And for Christmas lunch if sorpotel is not there it seems incomplete. But yes, I have been gifted sorpotel and so it’s going to be a wonderful Christmas. I have made my traditional miniature crib and will be entertaining friends onChristmas day.Cedric Silveira, PorvorimChristmas is definitely my favourite time of the year, but since the pandemic a lot of things felt different. Midnight masses on Christmas Eve that usually saw people under one roof turned into watching the same via social media platforms at home. I haven’t seen most of my family ever since and celebrations don’t feel the same without having them around. I’ve also come across those who’ve lost a loved one, making me realise yet again how much we take our lives for granted, and that we must be grateful for the little things. Everything seems to be getting back to normal this year and we’re celebrating as usual but with caution of course.Senova Fernandes, Taleigao(Compiled by Danuska Da Gama and Ramandeep Kaur)

  • Rockin’ around the Christmas tree
  • Navhind Times

Robert Schumann’s New Year Eve
Navhind Times | 8 months ago | |
Navhind Times
8 months ago | |

Luis DiasIn the good old pre-pandemic days (remember them?), we at Child’s Play would have been resting during the festive season after all the hard work put into our annual Christmas concert earlier in the month of December.One of those concerts featured an arrangement for strings of ‘Silvesterlied’ or ‘New Year’s Eve Song’ by German pianist-composer, conductor and influential music critic Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856).It is the last work from his ‘Album for the Young’ (Album für die Jugend), Op 68, written in 1846.Reading up about this particular opus by Schumann, I realised how apt a selection from it was for a children’s concert.The financial realities of supporting a household (his wife Clara would only embark on a very successful career touring as a pianist much later) compelled Schumann to think not just of the “artistic fruits” of his labour but more mundane considerations as well. His piano cycles from the 1830s were seen as eccentric and didn’t go down well with publishers or the public.Furthermore, he realised that there just wasn’t pedagogical piano music of good quality with which to teach his own three daughters. His ‘Album for the Young’ was one of many that he composed to address this. He initiated a new genre of piano literature, of programmatic music written specially for children and broadened horizons in music education that persist into our time.The catchphrase of the time was ‘Hausmusik’ (literally music designed for playing at home), replacing the aristocratic salons and palaces of earlier times, or contemporary large public performance spaces. ‘Hausmusik’ embodied the Enlightenment ideas of self-cultivation, self-education and civic humanism, collectively known as ‘Bildung’ (education).Schumann’s commitment to Bildung would have come not just from his bookseller-publisher father, but also from his teacher (who would go on to become, reluctantly, his father-in-law as well!) Friedrich Wieck. The three cornerstones of Wieck’s teaching were “the most sensitive listening, the finest taste, and a profound sensibility” as opposed to “absolutely no hearing, perverted taste, and no feeling of any kind”. He spoke out strongly against the “empty virtuosity” and “comfortless plunder and tinsel-playing” of pianists such as Kalkbrenner and Liszt.Schumann, like Wieck, believed that musical excellence depended upon a proper foundation built from childhood. He compared endless daily hours spent on mechanical exercises to “trying to recite the alphabet faster and faster every day”.His other aphorisms: “No child can be brought to healthy manhood on sweetmeats and pastry. Spiritual-like bodily nourishment must be simple and solid.”Such aphorisms eventually became part of a long list of “House Rules and Maxims for Young Musicians,” exhorting them to “put virtuosity at the service of artistry”. The initial plan was for the album to have appropriate drawings in the margins, thus “incorporating music, text and illustrations”.With an eye on the commercial side to the release of the piano album in time for Christmas when it would make the ideal gift to a piano student, Schumann tried to persuade the publisher Breitkopf und Härtel to release his Opus 68 as a ‘Weihnachtsalbum für Kinder’ (Christmas Album for Children).Unfortunately, the publishers didn’t acquiesce, saying: “The market for your compositions is, by and large, rather limited—more limited than you could believe…[W]e have lost through the publication of your works a significant sum and there is at this point little prospect of recovering it.”Schumann was therefore compelled to release it in the form we recognise today, via another publisher, Julius Schuberth of Hamburg.The Album has 43 titled character pieces and is divided into two parts, Part I (numbers 1-18), ‘Für Kleinere’ (For little children), comprising easier works; and Part II (numbers 19-43), ‘Kleine Romanzen’ (Little Romances) ‘Für Erwachsenere’ (For Adults) contains works of greater difficulty.Suzuki students will be familiar with the tenth work from Part I, ‘Fröhlicher Landmann, von der Arbeit zurückkehrend’ (‘The merry peasant returning from work’ or ‘The Happy Farmer’). It is the 16th piece in the Suzuki Book 1)Offering the album to a broader audience than just for Christmas allowed it to be sold more generally. For reasons of cost, the idea of individual illustrations to accompany each piece was abandoned. But Schumann managed to persuade the famous illustrator of children’s books, Ludwig Richter, to draw the title page in exchange for 24 hours of composition instruction for Richter’s son!The process of the illustration was also elaborate. Richter went to the home of the Schumanns where Clara played all the pieces of the Opus 68, following which Richter drew vignettes of 10 pieces.Schumann revealed in a letter to his friend Carl Reinecke that he had “never been happier” than when composing these pieces. He further wrote that whereas his earlier piano album ‘Kinderszenen’ (Scenes from Childhood) were “reminiscences written for adults”, the ‘Album for the Young’ was “written from the perspective of a child.”Schumann would write later that these pieces “were taken directly from my family life.”Responding to criticism by the influential reviewer Ludwig Rellstab that music pieces needed no titles (“Music has to be music”), Schumann stood his ground, saying “[t]itles for pieces of music, since they again have come into favour in our day, have been censured here and there, and it has been said that ‘good music needs no sign-post.’ Certainly not, but neither does a title rob it of its value; and the composer in adding one at least prevents a complete misunderstanding of the character of his music. If the poet is licensed to explain the whole meaning of his poem by its title, why may not the composer do likewise?”A century after its publication, Ernest Hutcheson,president of the Juilliard School wrote in 1948: “Nine-tenths of the ‘teaching’ pieces that flood the market might be thrown into the trash-barrel without a pang to make way for that Golden Treasury of music for children, the 43 Piano Pieces for the Young, Opus 68, familiarly known as the ‘Album for Youth’. What a blessing it would be to rid ourselves of the litter-ature of swing songs devoid of swing, cradle songs that don’t rock, skating pieces, pop-guns, and what-not? These are true teaching pieces in the sense that they are written to be taught, not played. They remind me forcibly of a remark made by an angling friend of mine about the array of lures displayed in a sporting-goods shop: that they are manufactured to capture not fish, but the eye of the fisherman. Schumann provides more tempting bait.”The popularity of Schumann’s ‘Album for the Young’ even today is clear from the arrangements of the melodies for other instruments or combinations of instruments.The ‘Silvesterlied’ or ‘New Years’ Eve’ song (also sometimes called Wintertime II, as it follows number 42, called ‘Wintertime’) is in binary form, with a five bar and ten-bar section, each repeated twice. They quote two well-known German folk tunes, ‘Sweet Lovers Love the Spring’ and the ‘Grandfather’s Dance’.Until we’re safely able to play live for you again, Child’s Play wishes all of you a Happy New Year 2022!

Robert Schumann’s New Year Eve
AAP targets govt for vandalism during Christmas festivities
Navhind Times | 8 months ago | |
Navhind Times
8 months ago | |

Panaji: Condemning the acts of vandalism during Christmas celebrations in some parts of the country, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has demanded immediate action against the culprits.Addressing the media, Amit Palekar and Valmiki Naik slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the actions of miscreants during Christmas festivities.The AAP leaders maintained that invoking the spirit of togetherness is intrinsic to Goan culture, and demanded answers from the BJP for its inaction.It may be noted that some mischievous elements had damaged the statue of Jesus Christ in front of the old and historical Holy Redeemer Catholic Church on Durand Road in Ambala Cantt on Saturday night.Miscreants with alleged links to a right-wing organisation had disrupted a Christmas programme in Silchar town of Assam’s Cachar district, demanding that Hindus should shun the celebrations.In a school in Karnataka’s Mandya district, a group had disrupted Christmas celebrations. In Gurugram, a group had allegedly disputed an event on eve of Christmas. In Agra, an effigy of Santa Claus was allegedly burnt.The AAP leaders alleged that the BJP even in Goa is trying to divide people on the lines of religion in an attempt to hide the government’s failures in providing oxygen during COVID to the patients, demanding bribe for jobs, burdening people with high power bills, and issuing faulty water bills on common man etc.“It is crystal clear that the BJP in Goa is trying to hide its government’s failure behind the communal curtain,” they said, adding, “The party has failed on all fronts in the state. Many precious lives were lost during second wave of COVID due to failure of the government to provide oxygen cylinders on time to the patients. Goan youth have lost their future due to failure of the government in providing jobs without bribe.”

AAP targets govt for vandalism during Christmas festivities
In Goas heartland, Christmas is about communal harmony
Times of India | 9 months ago | |
Times of India
9 months ago | |

KERI: While Christmas is celebrated with much pomp and fanfare in urban parts of the state, rural Goa has traditionally opted to mark the much-anticipated Christian festival as a close-knit celebration of communal harmony. This year is no different. The tribal Gaude of the Tiswadi taluka, who were victims of forced conversions during the Portuguese rule in Goa but were later reinstated into Hinduism, still maintain the age-old practice of honouring the Holy Cross in the vicinity of their settlement at Nauxi, near Bambolim. Called the Nav-Hindu Gaude due to their re-entry into Hinduism through a ‘shuddhi’ (purification) movement by spiritual leader Vinayak Maharaj Masurkar in 1930, they also invoke the blessings of the Holy Cross during the annual Zagor festival and offer garlands to it. At Angodwada, which skirts the Colvale river in Pernem taluka’s Ibrampur, 12 Dhangar families look forward to Christmas celebrations at the 13 homes of their Catholic neighbours. “Every year, the Catholic families happily take part in our Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations by visiting our houses eating vegetarian food and sweets. During Christmas, we visit their homes and relish nevreos, dodol and others delicacies. We look forward to Christmas,” Chandrakant Shinde, a villager, told TOI. A similar camaraderie is seen in Bhironda and Guleli in Sattari despite the Catholic population there being much lesser than the Hindus. Populations, however, do not seem to matter. “In our ward, the Catholic families are in majority. There are only eight Hindu houses, but we live in communal harmony. We love to take part in Christmas celebrations and they relish the vegetarian food offered during our festive occasions,” Swapnil Valvoikar from Vazri of Sankhali, said.

In Goas heartland, Christmas is about communal harmony
No fresh curbs for this festive season, says Goa CM Pramod Sawant
Times of India | 9 months ago | |
Times of India
9 months ago | |

PANAJI: While the state is ushering in Christmas and New Year festivities, chief minister Pramod Sawant on Friday raised serious concern about the Covid positivity rate increasing from 1.8% to 3.5%. However, he said that the state government has not imposed any restrictions on the celebrations and that there is no night curfew in the state for now. “People should take precautions so that there is no need to impose night curfew,” Sawant said. The chief minister chaired the meeting of the taskforce on Covid management and discussed issues related to the Omicron variant of Covid-19. “We have not restricted any activities being a tourist season and festive season. Christmas is celebrated in a big way and while celebrating Christmas we have to take precautions and I hope all will take precautions,” Sawant said. He said that the expert committee will submit a report on Monday and then the taskforce will meet on Wednesday to decide on the future course of action. In view of Omicron cases being detected in neighbouring states, Sawant said that the state government has decided to install a genome sequencing machine within one month. “We will finalise the source for the machine on Monday or Tuesday and then place the order for it. It will be installed at the Goa Medical College and Hospital. The machine is specially to detect the Omicron variant,” he said. Sawant said that 28 samples of foreigners suspected to be infected by the Omicron variant were sent for genome sequencing, eight people tested positive for the delta variant and 19 reports are still pending. The chief minister said that around 3,500 foreigners are in Goa and we are trying to keep in touch with these foreigners, but some of them cannot be contacted as their phones have been switched off. He also said that the public health department and the tourism department will issue an advisory for the general public and hotels on Monday. “We want to say that those foreigners staying in hotels and houses should compulsorily get themselves tested for Covid after eight days and they should go to nearby primary health centre for the test. If they do not conduct tests, then hoteliers and people who have come in contact with them should insist on conducting the test,” the chief minister said. Sawant said that if any foreigner tests positive for Covid then they should go to GMC to conduct genome sequencing. He said that as the positivity rate has gone up, the public and tourists should take precautions. The CM said that people should not go to crowded places and hold restricted functions in AC halls. He said that precautions are being taken in view of tourists from high risk countries like the UK and Russia visiting the state.

No fresh curbs for this festive season, says Goa CM Pramod Sawant
A Christmas Reflection
Navhind Times | 9 months ago | |
Navhind Times
9 months ago | |

The birth of Jesus brings to humanity an immense joy and wonder. On Christmas Day, as we celebrate this joyful event let us move ahead with love, peace and hopeFr Walter de SaStrange are God’s ways, beyond human comprehension. Mary, who was engaged to Joseph, gave birth to Jesus. Mysterious is his birth, contrary to the natural order of begetting a child. For as St Matthew states, “she was found with child through the power of the Holy Spirit” (1:18).No doubt, Mary was the most highly favoured human being. The angel Gabriel delivered to her God’s message that she would conceive and bear a son. The same angel brought to Joseph a message in a dream to take Mary as his wife. Both of them did exactly what God had commanded of them, believing that for God everything is possible. Joseph and Mary bowed down readily to God’s will.When her delivery time had come, Joseph and Mary were in search of a room; every innkeeper turned them away with a “no place” answer. And, lo, Mary gave birth to her son in a manger, surrounded by angels, shepherds, animals, plants and trees. The angels sang joyfully “Glory to God and Peace on Earth.” The shepherds, seeing the baby laid down in a manger, glorified God for the gift of the Saviour.God chose to communicate with Joseph through dreams. He was directed to name the child “Jesus” (Mt 1:20). Soon after his birth, Herod felt threatened of being dislodged from his throne on account of the newborn king. Hence, he ordered the massacre of all the males of two years of age. Joseph was then instructed by the angel, in a dream, to leave Bethlehem with the child and Mary at night for Egypt where he remained until the death of King Herod.Again, God’s angel gave him the news in a dream about Herod’s death, and told him to return to Israel along with the child and his mother. On his return journey, Joseph fearing that Archelaus, the successor and son of King Herod, might kill his son, was warned in a dream to settle down in Nazareth of Galilee.To fulfil their parental responsibility, forty days after his birth, they took him to the temple and offered him to the Lord by placing him in the hands of Simeon who acknowledged him as a light to the whole world. Simeon also made to Mary a startling revelation that her heart would be pierced with a sword, foretelling, thus, Mary’s passion at the feet of the cross on which her son would be nailed.As God-loving parents, Joseph and Mary never failed in their duty of upbringing their only son. When he was twelve years old, they took him for the feast of the Passover in Jerusalem where he was found missing. At this juncture, their anxiety is unimaginable. They went helter-skelter to search for him for three days. In their affliction, they supported and comforted each other until they found him in the temple questioning and answering to the doctors of the law.A mother always takes the side of the erring child. Mary too did so but she asserted herself as she reprimanded him saying, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been searching for you in sorrow” (Lk 2:48).Luke, the Evangelist, then comments on this incident: “He (Jesus) went down with them, and was obedient to them.” Further, he adds, “Jesus progressed in wisdom and age and grace before God and men” (2: 51–52). What a splendid example to our children.Joseph and Mary poured on their son a lot of affection, caressing and attention. After all, he was their blue-eyed boy. Joseph held him up in his arms, kissed his cheeks, taught him to walk and, later on, carpentry skills in his workshop. No doubt, Mary nursed him, fed him with nourishing food and taught him prayers and hymns.As the head of a family, Joseph, by his sweated labour and limited earnings, provided for the needs of Mary and the child Jesus. They are indeed a role-model to our parents.The birth of Jesus brings to humanity an immense joy and wonder. It enkindles in us a hope for a better world devoid of violence, injustice, discrimination, intolerance but rather renewed with peace, solidarity and brotherhood rooted in love, for God is love.A joyful Christmas to all!

A Christmas Reflection
COVID shadow looms over Xmas parties
Times of India | 9 months ago | |
Times of India
9 months ago | |

COVID cases are under control as of now, but the Omicron scare has thrown a wet blanket over Christmas celebrations in Goa this year too. While some party planners are taking a leap of faith and organising events, others have cancelled theirs and some have reduced the scale of the event they are hosting to avoid crowding. The Christmas Eve dance cancelledThe organisers of one of the biggest Christmas bashes in Goa that takes place annually at Quinta de Valladares has announced that the event stands cancelled. They said in a statement: “It’s breaking our hearts to do this again. Like last year, we’re putting everyone’s safety before us! Due to the new strain of COVID, we won’t be hosting our annual Christmas Waltz on December 24. Celebrations do matter, but your lives matter more. Feliz Natal, mog asum!” Mackenzie Pereira, who helps with the organising, tells us, “We don’t have anything planned on Christmas eve. We’ve cancelled our event, which would take place on a large scale. However, we have a smaller event planned on 25th at a nightclub, following safety protocols. If cases increase, I will take a step back like last year and not host any gigs.” ‘People want to go out and party’Despite the year of gloom, many Goans asserted that they were excited to go out again. Fred D’souza, who’s hosting a Christmas bash, says, “There are major events taking place across Goa. It’s my first gig for this year. Everyone’s quite excited, and people want me to do it, so I’ve decided to do it.” Ask him if he’s worried about COVID playing a spoilsport for another season, and he says, “People are already going out so much. The fear aspect isn’t playing on people’s minds right now. We try to follow precautions, but there’s only so much we can do as organisers. I’ve already received 170 couple confirmations.”

COVID shadow looms over Xmas parties
In a ‘feliz’ mood
Navhind Times | 9 months ago | |
Navhind Times
9 months ago | |

Lending a touch of Portuguese to the Christmas celebrations in Goa, Patrick J Lobo and Bianca A Rebello recently released a Portuguese carol featuring young Goan talentCHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZHaving previously released songs like ‘Rong-Rongit Goyem’, ‘Panchvem amchem Mollem’, and ‘Marie’, Patrick J Lobo and Bianca A Rebello recently came out with a Portuguese Christmas carol ‘Feliz Natal, Feliz Natal’.Sung by five singers – fadista Nadia Rebelo, and some of the winners of Vem Cantar 2021, ie Samaira Nadia Furtado, Vania Maria Das Necessidades Nunes, Rishona Denica Gomes and Reese Maria Columba Sardinha, the carol which features 12 musical instruments has musical arrangements done by Roque Lazarus and the video was shot atFontainhas, Panaji.“Our last song ‘Marie’ was a Konkani classical song and so this time we thought of coming out with a carol in Portuguese because we also wanted to give a chance to the Vem Cantar winners,” says Lobo, adding that they chose Fontainhas as it is known as the Latin Quarters. “We actually also wanted to feature some of the Vem Cantar singers from the area, but unfortunately it didn’t work out,” says Lobo.The carol was recorded at the studio of Mukesh Ghatwal and the whole project was coordinated by Emmanuel Meneses, the DOP was done by Lobo who gave a vintage touch to the video. And sharing his Christmas message, Lobo says: “It is time to come together to share the love and light of the new bornJesus Christ.”

In a ‘feliz’ mood
Movies to watch this season
Navhind Times | 9 months ago | |
Navhind Times
9 months ago | |

Love ActuallyA Christmas movie classic, ‘Love Actuall’y is the perfect comfort watch to keep you company on the night of Christmas. This Christmas movie has the ability to instantaneously make you feel warm on the inside, by bringing to you, several realisations about the process of pining for and struggling with love, and the complications inherently present in human relationships. This Christmas movie will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions, with heady highs and painful heartbreaks. IMDb Rating: 7.6/10How The Grinch Stole ChristmasA holiday movie replete with reminders of a comforting childhood and hilarious moments leaving you with tears of happiness streaming down your face,‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ is an old-school entertaining Christmas movie. Jim Carrey’s expressions, voice and mannerisms lend a strong foundation to the character ofGrinch and the dreamy town of Whoville is the perfect fictionalwinter wonderland to escape to! IMDb Rating: 6.1/10A Christmas CarolIt doesn’t get more Christmassy than this classic Dickensian tale of realisation and redemption. Jim Carrey’s multiple characters, despite being mostly CGI, manage to deliver some profound life lessons with the ease of witty humour. The cinematic elements in this re-telling pack in extra amusement and entertainment making it the perfect light-hearted Christmasmarathon movie! IMDb Rating: 6.8/10The Christmas ChroniclesThis Christmas movie has the coolest Santa ever, hands down! Kurt Russell’s unique personality breathes life into the magical tale of Santa Claus. The younger actors lend just the right amount of wit and character to the story, and the over-arching theme of adventure and unearthing treasures with childish wonder, make this Christmas movie the fuzziest friend to snuggle up with on a chillyChristmas eve! IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

Movies to watch this season
A dessert fit for the queen
Navhind Times | 9 months ago | |
Navhind Times
9 months ago | |

NT BUZZChristmas season is finally here! It’s time to bring out the Christmas tree, decorate the home in shades of red, green and gold, and celebrate with friends and family over a massive Christmas lunch.A grand occasion like Christmas definitely deserves a grand dessert. Chef Olaf Soares, the bakery chef at Kamaxi College of Culinary Arts (KCCA) shares his favourite recipe for the festive season – caramel chouxwith streusel.The choux pastry filled with decadent caramel cream is an indulgent dessert that will definitely be the highlight of your Christmas feast. Like many other popular French patisseries, the origins of the choux pastry likely began in Europe. Many people believe it to be the creation of Italian chef Pantanelli who worked at the service of Queen Catherine. The decadent dessert was designed as an elaborate centrepiece for formal occasions.Talking about the dessert chef Olaf said: “Caramel choux is a delicious dessert loved by many. It has a crunchy crust which is filled with soft and creamy caramel cream that makes this dessert hard to resist. During my early days at culinary school, I was introduced to the choux pastry and instantly fell in love with it. I also enjoy the taste of caramel and hence the combination of the two is what amazed me. ”Instructions:To make the caramel cream: In a saucepan, gently heat the brown sugar until it begins to melt. Stir gently until it is completely melted and becomes slightly darker. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add half the cream. Beware of splattering. Return the pan to the heat and simmer, stirring until the caramel is almost completely melted. Add the remaining cream and bring it back to a boil. Strain to remove the caramel bits that have not melted. Cover and refrigerate overnight or about 8 hours. Thereafter, with an electric mixer, whip the desired amount of cream until stiff peaks form.To make the choux pastry: Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Butter and line a large cookie sheet and set aside. Heat the milk, butter, and salt over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a dough.Cook the dough, stirring constantly over low heat for 2 minutes or until the dough begins to coat the bottom of the pan.Take the pan off of the heat and allow the dough to cool slightly. Add in the eggs and stir using a wooden spoon until the eggs are fully incorporated and the mixture resembles a thick paste. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Pipe the choux pastry into 1.5 inches wide and 1-inch high circles. You should have about 18-20 puffs.With a wet finger then lightly press down the swirl or peak of each puff. Using your fingers, flick water drops all around the cookie sheet and puffs. This will create steam in the oven and help your puffs torise up.To make the streusel: Mix all the ingredients together until it forms a paste. You can add red food colour to the paste. Roll out the paste in between two parchment papers at approximately 4 millimetres thickness and cool in the fridge. Once cooled, cut it into a 2-inch disc and place it over the piped choux paste. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, then turn off the oven and allow them to sit for another 10 minutes.Remove the puff from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature. Once cool, fill it with the caramel cream.Pile the caramel choux pastries onto a pretty plate and your Christmas dessert is ready tobe served!

A dessert fit for the queen
Traditional Goan Christmas Sweets
Navhind Times | 9 months ago | |
Navhind Times
9 months ago | |

Rohini DinizIn a few days, all over the world festivities will begin for the Christmas season and with it, the markets will be flooded with a variety of mouth-watering sweets and savouries. The very word ‘sweets’, spells the death knell for fitness enthusiasts and health freaks. But are all sweets bad and does one need to totally avoid them? Read on to find out.Sweets are food products that are made from a variety of ingredients and sweetened with sweeteners like sugar, jaggery, honey, etc. The nutritive value of sweets depends upon the ingredients used to prepare them. All sweets are high in calories from sugar and fat with many of them providing good amounts of protein and fair amounts of vitamins and minerals.The most common sweetener used in preparation of sweets is sucrose, which is made up of glucose and fructose. The human body handles glucose and fructose in different ways beginning with their digestion and absorption. Glucose is obtained from the digestion of both sugar and starch, and is absorbed from the intestine into the blood, and used to meet the body’s energy needs. Glucose in excess of energy needs is converted into glycogen and stored in the liver and muscles, and are readily available energy stores to the body. Once the glycogen stores are full, the excess glucose is converted into fat and stored in the adipose tissue leading to weight gain. Fructose upon digestion and absorption is metabolized primarily in the liver. Excessive amounts of fructose have been found to be readily converted into triglycerides by the liver cells, which in turn elevates levels of blood triglycerides, VLDL and LDL cholesterol and could result in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Fructose also promotes the build-up of fat around organs (visceral fat), increases blood pressure, elevates uric acid levels, makes the tissues insulin resistant and increases the production of free radicals that cause cell damage.The use of trans fatty acids in the form of vanaspati and margarine instead of pure ghee and butter in the preparation of sweets is also a cause of concern, since large amounts of trans fatty acids have been found to be bad for the heart as they raise the levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol levels.Another concern is the repeated reuse of oils used for deep frying savouries. When oils are repeatedly reheated to high temperatures, they decompose to form carcinogens and trans fatty acids. Both of which are bad for health.Here are the nutritive values of some common sweets and savouries prepared for Christmas.Bebinca: This sweet is considered the king of Goan desserts. It is prepared from a batter of coconut milk, egg yolks, sugar, flour, butter or ghee and nutmeg powder as flavouring and is baked in layers. Bebinca is in high calories and rich in both saturated fat and cholesterol, hence it is best enjoyed only in small portions.Dodol: This is a type of halwa that is prepared from coconut milk, jaggery, rice flour and cashew nut bits. Dodol is calorie-rich from the coconut and jaggery, hence it needs to be eaten in small portions. Since jaggery is used in its preparation, dodol contains small amounts iron and calcium.Cakes: A variety of cakes such as plum cake, rich fruit cake, batica, etc, are prepared for Christmas. Cakes are prepared from a batter consisting of flour mostly maida, sugar, butter or margarine or cream, eggs, milk or yoghurt, flavourings and ingredients like nuts, dry fruits, coconut, grated carrots, fresh fruits, etc. The nutritive value of a cake depends upon the ingredients used in the preparation. Cakes are high in calories from sugar and fat, and provide a good amount of protein, vitamins and minerals. The rich, fruit and plum cakes that are synonymous with Christmas contain alcohol which also adds calories.Chone Doce: This sweet is prepared from ground chana dal, ground coconut and sugar. Chone doce is a high-protein, calorie-rich sweet that contains a good amount of calcium and fair amounts of vitamins.Coconut Toffee (Kokad): This delicious toffee is prepared from grated coconut, sugar syrup and rava. It is high in calories and provides small amounts of vitamins and minerals.Pinaca (Pinagre): Prepared from roasted parboiled rice, coconut palm jaggery, and grated and ground coconut, pinaca is a sweet with a relatively high content of protein, iron, calcium and B vitamins. When eaten in moderation, pinaca makes a good evening time snack, especially when one is suffering from anaemiaNevreos: These are crescent-shaped, deep-fried savouries prepared from a pastry of maida and stuffed with a sweetened coconut mixture. Nevreos are high in calories from the oil that is used for deep frying.Kulkuls and kormolam: These are dainty, shell-shaped savouries that are prepared from a pastry that consists of maida, egg and sugar. They are deep fried and then dipped in sugar syrup. Since they are deep fried, they provide a lot of calories, especially when eaten in large amounts.Marzipans: Marzipan is a confectionery item that is prepared from sugar and ground almond. Since almonds are expensive, they have been replaced by cashew nuts and the final product is flavoured with almond essence. Marzipans are used to prepare small, fruit-shaped sweets and also as icings on cake. Marzipan made from almond or cashew nut powder is very nutritious as it contains protein, fat, calcium and vitamins.(Writer is a consultant nutritionist with 22 years of experience, practising at Panaji and can be contacted at[emailprotected])

Traditional Goan Christmas Sweets
O sing all ye faithful
Navhind Times | 9 months ago | |
Navhind Times
9 months ago | |

‘Tis the season to belt out some Christmas tunes. NT BUZZ speaks to Goans who are ushering in the spirit of Christmas through carol singingANNA FERNANDES | NT BUZZChristmas is just around the corner. But in Goa where December is almost as humid as any other month and when most of us still haven’t checked ‘decorating the house’ off our lists, it is carol singing that reminds you that Christmas really is just around the corner.“Carol singing is fun. It helps you get into the mood and spirit of Christmas. Especially now when the pandemic has dampened our spirits, Christmas is a time to raise our hope, renew our faith, and spread joy to everyone around us,” says Nicole Suares who along with John Lino started ‘Carols for Joy’, an impromptu jam event for friends and the public to bring in the Christmas cheer.And to add to the spontaneity, the group doesn’t really practice. “Everybody shows up on a specific day and we choose common carols like ‘Silent Night’, ‘Feliz Navidad’, ‘Jingle Bells’ so it’s easy for even a passerby to sing along,” says Suares.Singing under the name ‘Ciao Amigos’, their aim has always been to make people feel good and happy, adds Lino. The group that has been performing since 2018, and in fact, just had their fourth edition of their yearly jam last month, will also be part of the Global Goan Christmas online festivities this year. “Thankfully, we’re never short of people and we don’t need to go all out to invite people to join. Friends bring their friends and families and passersby stop to sing a carol or two,” Suares says. Since last year, however, group participation has been kept limited due to COVID-19, adds Lino. In fact, last year, they went online so people could join in from home.And another carolling group whose activities were curbed due to the pandemic is ‘Duler Voices’. For the group that came alive during Christmas time through activities such as serenading neighbourhoods and participating in competitions, the pandemic meant fewer activities. “We cannot go around much, we cannot meet much to practice, and there are not many events to sing at,” says Larissa Castelino, who has been part of the group for the past five years.Some of the favourite carols sung by the group are ‘Mary, Did You Know?’, ‘That’s Christmas to Me’, ‘Devale Daan’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘O Holy Night’, ‘Drummer Boy’, ‘Mariechea Khandaar’, and others depending onrequests received.“Carol singing reflects the values and spirit of the season of Advent and Christmas. They bring people together and put people in a mood of prayer, reflection, togetherness, and celebration,” adds Castelino.The AICUF (All India Catholic University Federation) unit of St Xavier’s College, Mapusa led by Fr Ramiro Luis is also all set to bring in Christmas with carol singing. “Along with other preparations, carol singing just puts you in the mood of Christmas. The songs remind you of what Christmas is all about and why we celebrate it,” says Fr Ramiro adding that the AICUF unit that welcomes the participation of students of all faiths, partakes in several carol singing activities on and off campus during the Christmas season.And instead of songs that feature Rudolph and Santa, Fr Ramiro emphasises that the group focuses on carols that proclaim the true reason for the season. “Our set includes carols centred around Christ rather than secular Christmas songs that sometimes don’t have any mention of Jesus. When we sing carols, we are therefore rejoicing in the real meaning of Christmas.”While carol singing activities will be subdued this year, he adds that they have earmarked a date for an on-the-spot serenading event to be held on the campus itself.However, Fr Ramiro notes that today the various competitions being carried out are leading to the commercialisation of carol singing. “My only fear with having carol singers compete with each other is that it could bring about ill feelings,” he admits, and adds that therefore what should be prioritised is the joy that carolsinging brings.Another group that is all about spreading the joy is ‘Ode to Jesus’, a flash mob carolling troupe that come together on the spot during Christmas time.Member of ‘Ode to Jesus’, Allan D’Cruz states that when it comes to practising, they usually share the voices on their own WhatsApp group which makes it convenient for the singers to train, shares “We also have one or two trial runs or rehearsals in Panaji where we plan how to execute a performance,” he says. Counsellor at BITS Pilani, Cleon D’Cruz usually trains the group with these performances.However, Allan admits that coordinating amidst everyone’s busy schedules can be a bit of a challenge. Also, he adds, sometimes a lot of youth promise to show up initially but when the day arrives they don’t.But despite this, the group has seen over 60 participants comprising singers and musicians participating in each of the many performances they have organised since 2016. “The response has been really good considering we don’t really force people to join us. The messages about our event are shared via WhatsApp and we have received a good number,” he shares, adding that the troupe has, over the last four years, performed at Panaji, Miramar, St Inez, Caculo Mall, Mall de Goa, Benaulim, and Margao. And they will be gathering again on December 18 at 8:15 p.m. at Mall de Goa.“It’s wonderful to see youth from across Goa join in to spread the joy and love as they serenade people. We sing, we give, and most importantly we try to live the joy of Christmas and spread it to everyone we meet this season,” he says.

O sing all ye faithful