Ever since we moved to this remote mountain village in the Western Ghats, every year on Christmas Eve, my family and I eagerly await the visit of Santa Claus and the neighborhood carol singers. The first year, a person was sent here in the morning asking us if we wouldn’t mind the children coming to sing the carols. My husband replied that we would indeed be delighted to have them. That year, we greeted them with pumpkin payasam and with snacks. Around of 25 persons, most of them children, sang Christmas songs and danced to the accompaniment of drums. After taking the refreshments, crackers were burst and off they went to the next house. The next year, their numbers swelled to around 35 and there was a Santa too in their midst. Last year, there were around 60 to 70 enthusiastic carol singers in the band.
The memories of that night awaken in me as I write this. The brilliant light of a petromax comes down our drive. Amidst the bursting crackers and the beating of drums, march up a multitude. Children, adults young and old, carrying with them a little statue of Infant Jesus. A soulful song and a fervent prayer set off a hearty dance led by the Santa. Here the Santa costume is worn by youngsters. He is joined in by the rest of the troop, bring alive the merry spirit of Christmas. Definitely, an occasion to remember. The delighted looks on the faces of the singers as they happily tuck into the refreshments, bracing themselves against the crisp winter air fills our hearts to the brim with joy. A psalm to the heavens, handshakes with the Santa, cheerful smiles, and off they march to the house next door.
This year, I decided to cook some delicious sweet semiya (vermicelli) payasam accompanied by hot and spicy vegan cookies for the carol singers. The cookies came out so good that they melt in your mouth, while the flavor of the spices, the sweetness and the salt just explode on your tongue, leaving you spellbound in ecstasy.
I am certain the carol singers will love them, and so would you! Here is the incredible recipe! One word for it? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!