Whether it’s decorating the tree, buying and wrapping presents, or preparing the festive feast for those near and dear, Christmas, like all major festivals, is about spending quality time with your family. Yet, in a melting pot like Mumbai or other big cities where people from all over the country, and even the world reside and earn a living, it isn’t always feasible for everyone to head home for the holidays. But the festive spirit is unrelenting and always finds a way to spread the cheer.
Family = friends
Over the years, many people who haven’t been able to find the time to travel to their hometowns on such festivals have created support systems for themselves in the city.
Thirty-year-old Oslinda M, for instance, moved away from her home in Goa two years back. Because her BPO firm only grants her one day off for Christmas, making it back home every year is tough. But in keeping with the joyous spirit of Christmas, Oslinda has found a family in her friend circle. “I know many of their families too. So, on Christmas Eve, I go with my friends and their families for the midnight mass, and on Christmas Day, I join them for a community get-together,” she says.
Home away from home
It’s not only during Christmas that people yearn to be with their family members. It is equally hard on them when they are unable to go home for Diwali and Eid too. Again, this is when having a social circle comes really helps.
Vishal Makwana, 28, who moved to Mumbai from Gujarat, celebrates Diwali every year with his friends. Meanwhile, even his family is glad that he has company. “After my first Diwali alone, I made some friends online, and realised that many of them were like me. We now organise our own parties for all the big festivals,” says Vishal, whose marketing job needs him to stay available at all times.
Living away from the family doesn’t have to mean spending festivals alone. With a number of social media platforms available, the world is becoming smaller every day. “People are used to staying away from home these days. This generation is very practical,” says Kinjal Pandya, relationship counsellor. Over time, even the way festivals are celebrated has changed.