A South Indian Thanksgiving

Last Thanksgiving, our first in the US was a huge let down.  A friend of ours had invited us and a couple more friends to join her family at her parents’ house for the feast.  We were pretty excited at the prospect of experiencing one of the most hyped celebrations of the West. Our host and hostess were very kind and welcoming. The food was great and much to my delight there three vegetarian options – that’s two more than on the menu of the local restaurant! Oh, and there was also the quintessential Turkey – the bird, all the stuffing, some dressing and a whole lot of legging (women out numbered the men.) But somehow, it just didn’t feel like Thanksgiving! And you’re wondering how I would know how Thanksgiving feels, if I claim this to be my first one? Good observation! 

The Thanksgiving I know, is from Hollywood movies and sit-coms. And in almost all those movies, there’s a lot of fuss over turkey, the hostess serves a lot of fattening food, relatives turn up with liquor or more food and inevitably there is some huge drama, a big fight, bones are picked – literally and figuratively and by the end of it all, people are on the couch, wearing stretch pants and watching the ‘big game’, if they haven’t already stomped and left the venue in a fit.

I chose the corner seats for our family – just in case there was a fight and we had to leave. But there was no fight, nothing broke, nobody needed digestive aids and nobody saw the ‘big game’. People were very polite and civil with each other, a lot of food was passed around the table and we finished off with dessert and coffee. That’s it! That was all there was!

It was a huge let-down because there was no drama. This just felt like a get-together of friends and family. Dinners like these happen all the time in India. Just add in some loud and raucous laughter and a handful of noisy kids that break stuff and you have a regular Indian fare.

Granted we have gazillion festivals and ample reasons to celebrate but we’re not necessarily known to wait for these special occasions for meeting with friends and family. Any life event is special and warrants a get-together. Pregnant? Let’s celebrate. Birth? Celebration time! The child’s christened? Yahoo! Tonsure? What’s on the menu? Solid food for the child? Time for a party! Admission in a good school? Bring out the bottles! Puberty? Job? Promotion? – All perfectly valid reasons to celebrate. And there’s always a lot of food.
So I didn’t quite ‘get’ Thanksgiving.

Anyway, this Thanksgiving, we’re just going to keep it low-key. My sister and brother-in-law and a few friends are coming over for the holidays. We’ll eat some idlis and dosas, dance to some Bollywood numbers, play charades, some board games, a few rounds of chess, and have a movie marathon through the night. We’ll try and keep it down. 


  1. Great story & I love the picture here...wish we can celebrate our own version of Thanksgiving here :-)