SRINAGAR: Amid a biting cold wave in the Kashmir, the Christian community of the valley on Sarurday celebrated the Christmas; the birthday of Jesus Christ, with zest and gaiety in Srinagar.
The mass prayers celebrations at Srinagar’s Holy Family Catholic Church, a Roman Catholic Church located at Maulana Azad Road and St. Lukes Church, where Christmas prayers were held after more than 30 years began in the morning and ended up around 12 pm.
All the churches were illuminated and decorated for the occasion. The Christians attired in colourful dresses exchanged greetings with each other, distributed sweets and offered special prayers. However, the celebrations were a low-key affair due to the coronavirus-related restrictions. Devotees were seen practising social distancing amid the pandemic.
A female devotee while talking to reporters said, “Jesus will fulfil our wishes and will fill our life with happiness.”
She said that they are waiting for this day for full year. It is a day of happiness.
“It is an occasion when people come together, cultures assimilate and we get to purge ourselves of the negativity, invigorating us for our future endeavors,” said another devotee.
In anticipation of the Christian festival, Lt governor Manoj Sinha had extended greetings to the religious minority.
He also prayed for peace and prosperity in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
Meanwhile, as part of the week long year ending celebrations, Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir organised grand Christmas festivals at tourist destinations of Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
The year end celebrations which started yesterday would culminate with new year celebrations on 31st of this month. During these festivals, a large number of tourists from various parts of the country as well as locals participated.
Many hotels and prominent buildings at Gulmarg were illuminated to give the place a festive look. A colourful musical programme was organized at the Golf Club which witnessed the participation of a large number of tourists and local visitors.
Earlier yesterday members of the Christian community organised special prayers at the local Church. They also prayed for communal harmony, love and compassion for humanity.
Secretary Tourism, Sarmad Hafeez who inaugurated the festival yesterday said that it has been a tradition of the Tourism Department to organize Christmas Eve celebrations across Jammu and Kashmir. He said the Department has planned this festive week to invite people around the world to come and visit Jammu and Kashmir.
Director, Tourism, Kashmir, Dr G N Itoo, senior officers of the Department, and representatives of local hoteliers were present on the occasion.
Similarly at Pahalgam, the Pahalgam Club, local hotels, buildings and the market were illuminated and the whole place wore a festive look. A variety cultural programme was organized in the evening by the Department which saw the participation of a large number of tourists and local visitors.
As part of the festival, the Department yesterday had organized a cake baking competition which saw an encouraging participation from young enthusiasts from across the Kashmir valley.
The participants of the final round were awarded a cash prize of 20000 each and momentos.