A spirit of festivity pervaded across the country as midnight masses, resonance of carols and merriment ushered in Christmas today. As bells tolled, worshippers thronged churches and cathedrals decorated with twinkling lights for the midnight service to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Sparkling Christmas trees and gift items adorned marketplaces that wore a festive look as community feasts, exchange of greetings and colourful processions marked the occasion.
Traditional Christmas carols rendered the air festive with gospel bands enthralling the merry-makers with songs like ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Oh Holy Night’ and ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’. It was a busy day for Santa Claus, the man in red with a flowing white beard, who went from place to place cheering the revellers.The national capital tuned to a celebratory note with the yuletide spirit with people sporting santa caps dotting its busy market areas.People ushered in the auspicious occasion through midnight masses and resonance of carols notwithstanding low temperature levels and foggy conditions.President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chief ministers of various states and political leaders greeted the nation on the occasion.People used social networking sites and applications to greet each other.Redemption, rejoicing, feasting and singing marked the occasion in the North-East which has sizeable Christian population.Midnight services in churches across Meghalaya heralded the advent of birth of Jesus Christ as tourists and locals joined in the festivities with religious fervour, mixed with merriment, exchanging greetings and gifts with friends and relatives.State capital Shillong was decked up for Christmas for the week’s celebrations. Both government and private buildings as well as street corners were illuminated and decorated with Christmas trees, banners and festoons.Tourists flocked to this hill state to participate during Christmas celebrations and also to take a taste of the winter season. Known for attractive illumination during Christmas and New Year, the Garo Hills too is agog with festivity.With the peel of the midnight bells, churches across Goa celebrated the birth of Lord Jesus heralding the Christmas season which will culminate with New Year festivities.Lakhs of faithfuls attended the midnight masses which were held across the state, followed by traditional dances at various places. Goa has 27 per cent of its population following Roman Catholic faith.While locals are busy celebrating Christmas, more tourists are expected to arrive in the coastal state to usher in the New Year. In Kerala, people celebrated Christmas with traditional fervour and piety with faithful thronging churches for special prayers and mass.While Cardinal Mar Baselios Cleemis led the midnight mass at the St Mary’s Cathedral of Syro Malankara Catholic Church in the state capital, Cardinal Mar George Alanchery of Syro Malabar Catholic Church conducted the service in Kochi and gave out the Christmas message.Christians account for nearly one-fourth of the population in the state.Christmas was celebrated with gaiety and fervour across Tamil Nadu, with a large number of faithful thronging churches, including the famous Santhome Basilica Church here, for special prayers and mass.In Chennai, senior bishops and priests conducted special masses at churches and gave out the Christmas message at churches across the city.A large number of thronged the Annai Velankanni church at Besant Nagar in the city, which was lit up by special lights, offered prayers and exchanged greetings.Faithful from various parts of the country gathered in large numbers at Shrine Basilica of our Lady of Health in Velankanni in Nagapattinam district and offered prayers.A report from Velankanni said a special prayer would be held at 8 AM tomorrow in memory of those who lost their lives in the December 2014 tsunami.The faithful also participated in special prayers at New Jerusalem Church at Tarangambadi in the district, the oldest protestant church in Asia. The church was built by Ziegenbalg in the year 1718 AD and is still in use.Churches across Nagaland held special prayers.People visited close ones and relatives, extending season’s greetings and exchanging gifts, besides exchanging Christmas cakes and cards.The celebrations commenced last night as youths were engaged in camp-fire in colonies and revellers moved around in groups, on foot and vehicles, wishing ‘Merry Christmas’.Around 92 per cent of the state’s population are Christians.Kolkata celebrated Christmas by holding midnight masses and carols that continued through the day and evening with people from all walks of life and faiths thronging churches, parks, zoo and other places of recreation.Midnight masses were attended by hundreds at St Paul’s Cathedral, St James Church and many other places of worship in different parts of the city which reminded one of the Raj era grandiose celebration of the Yuletide with Park Street serving as the pivot.In Mizoram, the day was marked by prayer services across local churches. Special congregations took place for singing Christmas songs.The customary community feasts would be organised in Aizawl city and all the villages tomorrow instead of today.

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