| A child outside a cake shop with Santa Claus in Patna on Tuesday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Every year wearing oversized red coats and fake beards and moustaches, a few souls take it upon themselves to bring cheer and joy to thousands, especially children.
Meet the Santas of the city. Suraj Kumar, who has been dressing up as Santa Claus for the past three years, said it helps him earn fast cash. “I get Rs 600 for six hours, which is good. I make clay idols with my mother during the rest of the year. My father, Chote Pandit, was also an idol maker but he passed away five years ago. After that, my life changed completely. I had to quit studies to help my mother. I studied till Class IX. I have been donning Santa’s robe for the past three years to help my mother run the household,” said Suraj, who was seen distributing chocolates outside a shop on Exhibition Road on Tuesday.
On how he took up the odd job, the 18-year-old said: “One of my friends gave me the idea of dressing up as Santa Claus to earn some fast bucks. I thought it would be simple. Sometimes, the kids pull my moustache and beard but I can’t shout at them. I have to make them understand. Standing for six to eight hours at a stretch is also difficult.”
For Prashant Kumar (40), the money was not the only factor. Playing the role for the past 16 years at a cake shop on Boring Road, he said: “The best part is that you get a lot of affection. Some of the more curious ones touch me and run away. Some of them get themselves clicked with me. A few hug me and break into laughter, it makes me realise I have done my job in a good way,” he said.
Binod Singh, the owner of a cake shop on Boring Canal Road, which has hired Prashant, said: “We hire people to play Santa to bring smiles on everyone’s face. It is not because we want to increase sales. Santa distributed chocolates worth around Rs 20,000.”