“Whatever the reason, the Divine power of the universe has guided you to this moment. You just have to have faith in the greater plan for your life and your heart.”
Living in the UK, my experience of the winter solstice is a time of darkness, cold days and nights, and if I’m lucky enough, log fires and food with friends. A time to honour the darkness, to honour what I want to release and then to welcome the turning point as we start to move towards the light, and at the dawn, to greet the light.
This winter solstice was the brightest, hottest and sweatiest that I’ve ever experienced. The sun rose around 6:30 and set around 5:30. The trees were in leaf, flowers in bloom. A sun tan was in progress. There are no stark silhouettes of tree branches without leaves, of a land lying dormant. Here, the land is lush and fertile. Green, red, gold. Palm fronds and grass. Although grateful, my body / soul knew something was off-kilter. I found myself missing woolly scarves and the crisp bite to the air, the darkness that allows life to die off so that it can be renewed with the spring.
I woke on Christmas day around 5:30 with the call to prayer from the nearby mosque. I watched the sunrise and thought of my family. To my surprise and utter delight, the host of the homestay provided Christmas cake with breakfast. (Very tasty, but not as good as yours, Mum.) Having a strong Christian presence, Christmas is celebrated in Kochi, complete with Christmas trees, men dressed up as Father Christmas (though instead of a fake beard, there are plastic masks depicting Chris Cringle’s bearded and rosy cheeked face attached to the rim of his hat – cute in theory, terrifying in reality), Christmas carols (but not as we know them in England – non that I recognised, and all sung with a decidedly calypso swing) and masses of lights.
After my Christmas curry I was walking back to my homestay when a lady who ran another homestay I stayed in, called to me from her front door (many of which are always open in India). Abover the front door hung a snowman made from paper cups. She invited me in for tea and Christmas cake, and I met her younger sister who is a a classical singer. I got an impromptu concert (what a voice!), then was asked to sing something so (to my surprise) did a passable rendition of Silent Night. Songs and sparkling lights – a beautiful end to my most unusual Christmas yet.