Christmas in Kolkata – a photo story

Cake mixing in progress in Flury's
Photographer: Manjit Singh Hoonjan

Manjit Singh Hoonjan is a second generation Kolkatan, passionate about photography, meeting people and has an insatiable desire to know more. He dreams of a job travelling the world, and taking pictures of all that he experiences. He runs a special interest tour company in Kolkata called Calcutta Photo Tours.


Yuletide and Kolkata always had a special relation – the twinkling fairy lights on Park Street, the carols in the historic churches, the cakes from Flurys (Ph: 033 4000 7453) and Nahoums (Ph: 033 6526 9936) and the special menus in every restaurant and club. In Kolkata, everyone celebrates Christmas!

The run up to Christmas starts nearly a month in advance. The city’s Anglo-Indian households get into the festive mood and preparations start for the big day ahead – or Burra Din as it is called here. The excitement in and around New Market is palpable. Baubles, bells, toy Santas and of course the faux fir trees are aplenty. Cake shops are busy with the cake mixing – in fact Flurys has a cake mixing ceremony which takes place a month before Christmas where all the various dried fruits are mixed with juices and rum. The city’s meat shops also get busy with the preparation of salt beef.

As it gets closer to Christmas, Kolkata gets its few weeks of the elusive winters. It is a homecoming of sorts for many Anglo-Indians who have moved to Canada, US and the UK. The Bow Barracks, off Central Avenue along with Wellesley Street, Elliot Road and Ripon Street, where most of Kolkata’s Anglo Indians live transforms into the veritable tinsel town.
Photographer: Manjit Singh Hoonjan
If you are in Kolkata during Christmas, you must visit the Bow Barracks to witness the festivities. There are a number of events lined up from the 23rd of December all the way to New Year’s Eve. The highlight for the children in the neighbourhood is Santa Claus arriving on a rickshaw – can it get more Kolkatan than this? About 700 children – not limited to Christians – get snacks and gifts – all made possible by funds raised by the Anglo-Indian community. Calcutta Photo Tours (; Ph: 09831163482) has an interesting tour of this area and the surrounding areas called the Culture Kaleidoscope.
Photographer: Manjit Singh Hoonjan
But one cannot ignore Park Street. No way! Flurys is stocked from floor to ceiling with its unbeatable mince pies, Dundee cakes, plum puddings and other seasonal varieties like Yule logs, chocolate cones and nougatines. In fact it stays open all day and night on the 24th of December.
Photographer: Manjit Singh Hoonjan
Park Street restaurants which are famous for its special Christmas menus see patrons dressed in their festive best waiting for that elusive table. The duck roasts are a rage and so is a very special Anglo-India delicacy called ‘haas and baas’ (duck and bamboo shoots). Moulin Rouge (Ph: 033 2229 9397), Peter Cat (Ph: 033 22298841), Magnolia (Ph: 033 2229 8997) and Mocambo (Ph: 033 22290095) are the very best of the many that have been serving Christmas delights to generations of Kolkatans.
Photographer: Manjit Singh Hoonjan
The midnight of the 24th of December is always reserved for the midnight mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was consecrated as the first Episcopal Church of the Orient in 1847. It is surely a treat to be there with the whole service conducted in candlelight as every Kolkatan irrespective of caste and creed joins hands in prayer. Apart from St Paul’s, midnight masses also happen at St. Thomas’ Church, St. John’s Church and Portuguese Church.
Photographer: Manjit Singh Hoonjan
  • Shilpi Guha

    I can’t even begin to tell how I miss Calcutta….with Christmas round the corner, it makes me sad even more.

  • Srijit Chakravarty

    Christmas & New Years..Kolkata is the best place to be in.

  • Parama

    Can’t wait for Christmas. Calcutta looks like a dream during this season. The photographs are straight from a fairy tale book.