Madras’ history is so deep that no matter how much digs, the surface barely gets scratched. At a heritage walk set to happen on Christmas Eve, historian Nivedita Louis will explain about a lesser-heard and seen side of the city — Santhome. The aim behind the programme is to help people understand what the festival is all about and how Christians of different denominations celebrate it.
The walk will commence from the museum inside the Santhome Cathedral (assembly point), from where the hosts will go on to explain about the Portuguese residents’ day-to-day living and prayer rituals. “History shows that many of their customs are akin to that of the locals. For example, we can find pillars similar to the Dwajasthambam built in Hindu temples in some of the churches. People also used to take the idol of Virgin Mary out in a procession like they do with Hindu deities,” she explains.
At the crib inside the Santhome Cathedral, Nivedita will speak about how this Nativity scene was started in 1223 by Francis of Assisi. She says, “He is also called patron saint of animals — that’s why we find a lot of animals in the crib such as donkeys, goats and oxen.” The participants will then proceed to St Bede’s School after which, “We’ll go to the Bishop’s House, which was once a bungalow built by De Monte in 1808. In fact, the gate has a creepy story, which I’ll narrate during the walk,” shares the historian.
St. Rita’s Church, CSI St. Thomas English Church, which is 175 years old and CSI St. Thomas Tamil Church will follow. The last stop is Kalpana House, which belonged to a yesteryear actress. The old bungalow currently houses a jewellery store but hidden within its walls is a small shrine built by the actress’ son, containing a 100-year-old statue of Infant Jesus. Another surprise element for the participants will be in store after a visit to this house, which will be revealed during the walk.
To participate in the hour-long Christmas Eve Walk that will start at 7.30 pm, contact 9840170982.