For the past two weeks, Beryl Pinto, 55, has been quickly attending to her household chores and then heading to her neighbour's house to rehearse Christmas carols.
Pinto, a Bandra resident, is a member of Grace Notes, a choir comprising five housewives. They will be performing a medley of Elvis Presley numbers at several Christmas programmes in Bandra this year. "We have performed at funerals, marriages and other church functions earlier. But for the first time, we will be singing Christmas carols, which is a new feeling," she said.
With only a week to go for Christmas, choir rehearsals have begun in city parishes. Wearing their floppy Santa caps, the Andrean Youth Movement - the youth wing of Bandra's St Andrew's parish - will hit the streets of Bandra from Monday to spread the festive cheer. The group comprises college students. "Last year, old people came out of their homes to join us on the street," said Adele Fernandes, 19, a second-year arts student.
"We start performing a week before Christmas, when families start decorating Christmas trees and cribs in their homes. The carols set the festive mood," she added.
Shaun Williams, 32, and his group from Bandra's St Stephen's Church stay away from the refrigerator before their performance. "As children, we were forced to have ginger soaked in honey before every concert to ensure we sounded our best," said Williams, a drama teacher and actor from Vakola. "Nowadays, we make do with glasses of warm water," he added.
The group, which moves around the suburbs in a bus to perform "fun Christmas carols" at non-profit organisations and housing societies, focus on vocals rather than the accompaniments. "We create the sound of a mouth organ without the instrument. Most of these acts are spontaneous," Williams said.
"The age-old tradition of live carol singing is dying. Recorded and digitised music has replaced this practice. We need to hit the streets again, where carol singing initially started," said Annabelle Ferao, who is hosting a musical road show, Carols 2011, on December 21 on St Anthony's Road in Bandra.
"Parents do not mind sending their children for rehearsals even after a hard school day because they are very enthusiastic," said Sarita Manchanda, who is training her group, Fun Bunch, for Christmas.
For Karen Vaswani, who is a graphic designer by day and the conductor for Mahim's Victory Chorus Line choir in the evening, this Christmas will be celebrated in Santa's absence.
"Santa Claus is taking a break this year because he has to attend a Christmas party with his date," said Vaswani, whose choir will be crooning to 'Santa needs a date' on Christmas Eve.