Irene Gonsalves has not yet put up her Christmas tree. Or the crib. And today is already December 21. There has not been time to pull out the tinsel and hang up the stars. Her tiny cottage at Sherley Village in Bandra, Bombay hums with activity. The Gonsalves family are busy putting together orders for Christmas sweets. Trays and trays

of marzipan, milk sweet, fudge, tarts lie higgledy-piggledy all over the house. Daughter-in-law Hope is packing spicy sausages. Gonsalves is an East Indian. For her and her clan, Christmas is the most important day of the year. This small community traces its origins to the 15th century.