Christmas celebrated with religious fervour, gaiety across J&K

Members of Christian community celebrating Christmas in Jammu (left) and Srinagar (right) on Saturday. — Excelsior/ Rakesh & Shakeel
Members of Christian community celebrating Christmas in Jammu (left) and Srinagar (right) on Saturday. — Excelsior/ Rakesh & Shakeel

Function held after 30 years at St Luke’s Church

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU/SRINAGAR, Dec 25: Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ was celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety in Jammu and Kashmir today as devotees held special prayers for the good health and prosperity of people in various Churches across the UT.
All the Churches especially in Jammu region were fully decorated befitting the occasion where hundreds of the community members visited to offer special prayers for the good health, peace and prosperity of human beings and they also lighted the candles to maintain the tradition.

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Attired in colourful dress, the Christian community members were seen greeting and hugging each other with Merry Christmas. The people of other religions were also seen greeting the members of the Christian community and exchanging pleasantries on the occasion.
The grand functions were held in Churches of Gandhi Nagar, Residency Road, Prem Nagar, Panjtirthi, Bakshi Nagar, Muthi village and other areas where there was rush of devotees throughout the day.
The boys were seen dressed as Santa Claus everywhere in the City and its outskirts bringing gifts for children. The Christmas is the festival of colours, joy and happiness which is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ every year on December 25 across the world.
In Jammu for the first time, Christmas Carnival was held at Four A Lords Resorts on Purmandal road where a large number of people visited to attend the carnival and taste delicious cosine specially prepared for the occasion.
Reports coming from other districts said that Christmas was also celebrated by the members of the Christian community in the local Churches.
The largest gathering in Kashmir was held at the Holy Family Catholic Church on Maulana Azad Road in the heart of Srinagar city, where the members of the Christian community, including women and children, assembled to celebrate the occasion and held special prayers.
“I pray the coming year ushers in happiness and God protects us, our country from COVID-19, from all problems and keeps us healthy,” Father Stalin Raja of the Church said.
Among the believers were a few tourists who joined the locals on the auspicious day and prayed for peace and prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir, and the world over.
Christmas celebrations were also held in other churches of the Valley, including the St Luke Church at Dalgate, which was renovated and re-opened after about 30 years, recently.
The Department of Tourism, Jammu and Kashmir, organised a cake competition for the Christmas festival at IHM today. The competition was based on two rounds-preliminary and final round. Eight well-skilled entrepreneurs entered the final round.
With the start of the Christmas festival, different kinds of celebrations are going on in Kashmir valley and the Department of Tourism is organising interesting activities to make the festival more joyful for the tourists and Kashmiris in the Valley.
“With the help of this unique cake baking competition, young entrepreneurs are getting a proper platform to show their skills. The Tourism Department of IHM should organise more programmes in future so that youngsters get a good opening for their future”, said an organiser.
Visibly joyous, people attended the congregational prayers that were held at Holy Faith Catholic Church during which people prayed for peace, prosperity and sought blessings of God in putting an end to the COVID pandemic.
On the occasion, a low-key function was also held at recently reopened, renovated St Luke’s Church in Dalgate where the people considerably in low number were seen assembling to hold the prayers.
“This is a day of happiness for and for the entire year, we keep waiting for the day to fill our houses, our lives with happiness,” said one of the devotees.
The devotees at St Luke’s Church in Dalgate appreciated the efforts of the authorities for restoring a more than 100 years-old Church and said that such efforts bring in joy and delight.
“The Church was in dilapidated condition, but efforts by the authorities made it possible for us to assemble here on this auspicious day,” said another devotee.
On the occasion, Srinagar Municipal Corporation Mayor, Junaid Azim Mattu also visited the St. Luke’s Church where he said that because of the syncretic culture in J&K, every community feels safe and respected.
“All the communities are one here and the city has a syncretic identity and historicity,” he said
He said the Srinagar Smart City has beautifully and with utmost attention restored this historic St. Luke’s Church in the city.
“Our Christian brethren are celebrating this festival with cheerfulness and they are feeling happy as their festival is being respected. This is the essence of Srinagar city that all communities feel respected, equal, cherished and valued,” Mattu said.