Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Christmas In India during the British Raj

Christmas in India"; chromoxylograph from a drawing by E.K. Johnson; 1881. An idealized picture of British home life: attentive servants and happy children (who would be packed off to England for schooling before long).

A bearer or valet and ayah or nursemaid

A bhisti or water carrier

Recollections of English domestic life in India present a picture of an existence both contented and full of difficulties, both luxurious and spartan. Britons generally occupied commodious bungalows (the word itself comes from Indian terminology meaning something from Bengal and referred to a particular housetype originally from that province) and commonly employed numerous servants to run the household.
Yet even into the 1940s the house would not have electricity, running water, refrigeration; it would have been open enough for insects, rats, snakes and--in remote areas--even wild animals to invade. Moves to new postings were frequent and thus life was unsettled. It was thought important to send children home to England for schooling, so that family members were separated. There were likely few other Europeans nearby, so that people--especially wives with no official work, possibly no children at home, and only a menage of servants to interact with all day--might feel very isolated. Indeed, women who found outside interests--whether their husbands' work, local charitable pursuits, or the outdoor life--were thought to be happiest.

10 Fertilize my soul:

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

A very informative post Amrita. I'm sure that there were still so many good legacies that the British left India with. Of course, there were so many excesses, especially those that Mahatma Gandhi fought and died for. Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to you and your loved. May God's innumerable blessings be showered upon you and your loved ones this coming years and in the years to come.

The Dementia Nurse said...

Amrita, I LOVE the many interesting things I learn by reading your blog. I'm guessing you have always been inquisitive! You have a gift for sharing details that enrich my life - I thank God for your work here.

Felisol said...

Dear Amrita,
you are talking gently about those thinking of themselves "Carrying the white man's burden" to quote Kipling.

I have read quite some books about India in the colonial times.
Not exactly reading for children.

I think you are doing wisely taking care of the good things and find it in your heart to forget and look forwards.

I think India and Norway are among the few countries winning their freedom by negotiations without a bloody war.

Praying for your Mom.
From Felisol

Bestemor Aud said...

Thanks for visiting my blog again, Amrita! Very much interesting on your blog since I visited you last time. Wonderful to see Christmas being celebrated also in your part of the world. Jesus is the victorious! Hallelujah! What a wonder that he came to this world!!
Tomorrow me and my husband leave for 3 weeks on Cyprus. You may be have seen it on my blog. It's the first time we celebrate Christmas without our children. But we were together at the baptisme of Emanuel.
I wish you and your family a merry Christmas and a blessed new year!
Love from Aud

Roo said...

merry christmas dear amrita! sending you a hug.

Julia Dutta said...

Been a long time Amrita and what a wealth of stories you have put up. The latest post is very imformative, really. I never knew that the Brits got the name Bungalow from Bengal.
These last few days in my office, are hardly attended by me as I am on my own trip here and there.
What a relief it is to be away from work and NEWS NEWS NEWS....I am so happy to see the sun again for the kind of corporate life that is followed in India today, no one gets to see the sun at all.
How the Lord has saved me from this darkness.....

Jo's-D-Eyes said...

My dear friend Amrita,
You are also such an ARTIST !I love your blog, the colours, layout, and all your information... how is is possible to let it snow??? Fantastic, I tried (without succes) some other templates/backgrounds but it did not work, I see its 21 Degrees in your land and wow! I would love the sun, but I like our weather too (snow and fog), we are leaving at the end of this week for a short holiday in aforest in Holland, also the dog is coming with us.

Merry Christmas for you and your family we'll meet/see our blogs after Christmas,

Hug from JoAnn's D Eyes/Holland

Jo's-D-Eyes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Skitt said...

Wow - how interesting!

Merry Christmas dear friend!

Rebecca said...

My grandfather was in India and of course there are stories and photgraphs of that whole time period....btw, your blog is very very Christmassy!! Fantastic!