By Savitha Hira
Photography: Courtesy Damian
One of the most decorative and dedicated store-front displays spread across a length of approx. 25ft for 45 years now, is the one at Bandra west, Mumbai, India...
With the spirit of ‘loving n giving’ at the helm of Christmas and New Year, traditional montages of the birth of Christ, the Three Kings, the Christmas Tree with its gifts, Ivy, Holly and Bells, and other tableaus – small and big – fill our senses at various locales around town.
Over the last two decades, around this time of year, I have been closely following one furniture store in Bandra, Mumbai – Damian. This large store is almost half a century old and has ever since followed the tradition of Christmas décor in the most impressive format. Walk past the store on the first day of December, and you will see a skillfully articulated thematic that touches a chord of nostalgia in you as much as it instills the joys of the season.
“As a little boy back then, I used to help my dad decorate the shop front,” remembers Frederick Pereira, owner of Damian. “We had very humble beginnings. From Mango tree branches, Fevicol drums, rocks from bandstand, and cotton wool that would create simple decorations, we moved on to painting the shop-front glass with pine trees etc.; then we started putting in some art and craft work, and gradually began to experience the joys of working on themes and concepts,” he continues.
With a different theme each year, the store has delighted its viewers with fairy tale tableaus of the Three Pigs, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella with her Pumpkin Carriage and Fairy Godmother; elaborate Christmas parables of Santa with his sledge and the reindeers; Santa on the Pole Express etc.
A year or so ago, the thematic was ‘Nursery Rhymes’ and showcased the three most popular ones – Jack n Jill, Baa Baa Black Sheep and Humpty-Dumpty. Of course Baby Jesus in His crib and the Christmas Room are regular features.
Mr. Pereira explains the details that go into conceptualizing and finalizing the scenario each year. He begins working on the concept a few months in advance and pays great attention to every detail from selecting the theme with appropriate character references and costumes to scaled floor plans that help in mounting the entire scenario overnight.
The props, art and craft are handled by a team of professionals, who are especially brought in every year. The theme then travels to Damian’s Goa store for the following Christmas, while the Mumbai store gets its new theme.
So, what kinds of reactions has this effort garnered? Mr. Pereira responds with a twinkle in his eye, “I have interacted with people, who tell me that they have felt rejuvenated after seeing the display here and have changed their decision of not celebrating Christmas with an elaborate Christmas tree, Holly and the works.”
And there have been scores of others – some travelling to their hometown from abroad, who make it point to visit Damian for Christmas; passersby, who kneel there for a few introspective moments of prayer; loads of children, who spread the word and the excitement… It’s a tradition that the public looks forward to. It’s contagious Christmas Cheer. It’s Damian.