It seems that both in Czech Republic and Goa the main Christmas day is December 24. And (contrary to the rest of India) there are many Christians in Goa, the Catholic church came there with the Portuguese and there are certainly more churches than Hindu shrines nowadays. During the day it didn’t look like Christmas at all, the weather being sunny with temperatures over 30 degrees! But it turns out that in the villages on the coast the locals like to build outdoors Nativity scenes (hopefully that’s the right English term, in Czech “Betlem”). Some of them were really big (maybe 6 by 3 meters or so) and intricate, with waterfalls, churches, and of course coloured lights and stars. Only the Baby Jesus was missing, but that was probably it was before midnight when he’s supposed to be born. And almost all houses had at least some star or lights, so overall the mood was surprisingly Christmasy :)
What was not so great was getting a rickshaw or taxi take me to the airport early in the morning on the 25th. Almost everyone goes to a midnight mass (I’ve seen chairs prepared for maybe 1000 people outside a church) and afterwards to get drunk at a party. You can imagine how excited they were about giving me a ride at 4.30 am, but in the end I of course got one, only pretty expensive (800 rs, at least twice the normal price).
I flew to Mumbai, spent the day in a nice museum and a zoo, where the animals were either missing or asleep (I still am not sure if some of the crocodiles were alive or just statues!), and then took a crowded 7-hour train to Aurangabad. Arriving there (yesterday) in the evening, I found out that also Indians like to travel during Christmas and that almost all hotels were full. In the end I found a got and expensive room, but today in the morning I walked around some more and quite a decent one.
After that I went to the nearby Ellora Caves. They were terribly crowded (and as you may know, Indians in a crowd are quite aggressive at shoving and pushing), but beatiful as well. They were all just cut into rock, just imagine that the biggest one, Kailash Temple took around 200 years to complete and is huge – and was the way most crowded one! Fortunately, once I got a bit away from the center, it was much better, and I really enjoyed walking around the great caves.