Christmas is a time for happiness and sharing some memorable moments. Gifts are simple yet important factor to make Christmas lively. But Time has proved that gifts are always not what money can buy. That is why there are several stories, fictition or real, that talk about gestures of sharing, kindness, help and care which are told to children / students either in school or in family. Worldwide even today, where technology takes the front seat, the trend is still maintained.
One of the most awaited activities of the season is the Christmas Market where one can buy all kinds of Christmas merchandise and gifts. Christmas gifts are often not mass-produced but are quality craftwork. Although with time the Christmas Market has spread geographically but this concept is supposed have originated in Germany & Austria.
Pondicherry, a peep-hole to France, is touched by this tradition too which adds on to its multi- culturalistic way of life. A brief meeting with Mr. Grelier Laurent explained how this custom found its way into Pondicherry.
Christmas Market or Marché de Noël was introduced in Pondicherry in 2006 by two young professors of Lycée français de Pondichery, Mr. Grelier Laurent & Dimitri Jaquier Roux. During couple of years prior to 2006, 3 or 4 vendors used Lycee’s Salle de Prof. or teachers’ room to display their products just before the Christmas holidays.
Grelier Laurent, Dimitri Jaquier Roux, M. Larrouturou Pierre and their friends decided to take this event on a different platform under the wings of l’Amicale de Pondicherry, a registered social network where the French & the Indians get together once in a month for games (outdoor & indoor), cultural activities, cafe litteraire, etc.. l’Amicale de Pondicherry was especially formed to make the French feel at home.
On the 1st Marché de Noël, l’Amicale de Pondicherry invited NGOs to showcase their products to encourage their activities. And then the demand to participate in this event has grown . So, stalls for art and handicraft, jewellery, gifts, fabrics & garments, decorations, paintings, photography, greeting cards and eateries were introduced in course of time from Pondy and Auroville and sometimes from Tamilnadu. Mr. Grelier Laurent also informed that priorities are given to NGOs, and to those who work from home or are new in Pondicherry.
There is no participation fee to have a stall in Marché de Noël as the Lycee de Pondichery provides the infra-structure. There is no direct money exchange between the vendors and customers. Every sold item is kept track of by the organisers. At the end of the day, money is claimed by the vendors. 10% percentage of the sales is deducted on the total sale which is donated to Caisse de Solidarite, a group which helps to raise fund for underprivileged students of Lycee. NGOs keep their profits.
This year Christmas Market or Marché de Noël was held on Saturday, 14th Dec. There were 42 stalls spread out on the ground floor and the 1st floor. On the ground floor stalls for NGO’s and eateries occupied space while on the 1st floor were for the rest.
Mr. Grelier Laurent informed proudly that from 15th Oct’13 to 6th Dec’13 there were 60 requests for participation. But it was tough to say “No” to some.
Ms. Alline Charles, the Principal of Lycee, is also very proud of her 1st Marché de Noël in Pondicherry. Seeing people from diverse walks of life in the premises of Lycee, she enjoyed a slice of Pondicherry.
So the happiness shared between vendors, customers, organisers and the host is indeed an experience which demands and awaits the return of Christmas Market or Marché de Noël at the Lycée français de Pondichery.
Image Credit : Mr. Laurent GRELIER