Christmas Celebrated In Kashmir Amid Pandemic

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by Urvat IL Wuska

SRINAGAR: Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ was celebrated on Friday across Jammu and Kashmir with fervor and enthusiasm amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A devotee taking selfies with a man dressed in a Santa Claus costume in a church at Srinagar on the occasion of Christmas amid severe cold conditions on Friday. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

The mass prayers celebrations at Srinagar’s Holy Family Catholic Church, a Roman Catholic Church located at Maulana Azad Road, 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.

Christians praying near the replica of the birthplace of Jesus Christ in a church in Srinagar on the occasion of Christmas amid severe cold conditions on Friday, December 25, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

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.

Christian devotees sanitize their hands as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 before entering inside a church on Christmas Day in Srinagar on December 25, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

He also prayed for peace and prosperity in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

In his message, the Lt Governor observed that Christmas is a day to remember the pious teachings of Jesus Christ. He said that the message of peace and compassion preached by Jesus Christ is as valid today as it was thousand years ago.

“I pray that we all try to emulate his life lessons, wisdom and be loving and compassionate towards one another and work selflessly for the betterment of the society”, said the Lt Governor.

Christians singing rhymes in a church in Srinagar on the occasion of Christmas on Friday, December 25, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Unlike Kashmir, Jammu has more numbers and the festival is colourful and comparatively widespread.

Meanwhile, amidst the festive and colorful atmosphere and Christmas Celebrations here at Gulmarg, the Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir kick-started the first batch of Ski Courses at Gulmarg.

Twenty young boys drawn from various districts of the J&K will undergo the 7- Day Introductory Ski Course during which the group will be introduced to the basics of Skiing. All the lodging & boarding and the Ski equipment is being provided free of cost by the Tourism Department. A four-member Ski Instructors team will be imparting Skiing training to these beginners.

Tourists skiing on the snow slopes of the world-famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir on the eve of Christmas on Friday, December 25, 2020.KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

The Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir has drawn a weekly calendar for imparting basic skiing training to as many as 6 groups this season. Among these 6 groups, two will be exclusively meant for outside J&K youth including one girls group. Another exclusive girls group will be from the UT.

At the end of their training programme, the best three among the trainees in each of the six groups will be selected for Intermediate & Advance level courses.

Apart from the Tourism Department, hundreds of boys and girls are being imparted basic Ski training this season by the Youth Services & Sports Department. The Indian Institute of Skiing & Mountaineering has also started various Ski training courses at Gulmarg.

Kashmiri folk musicians beating drums in the snow-clad world-famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir on the eve of Christmas on Friday, December 25, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Gulmarg continued with its festivities and cultural programmes on Christmas to enthral the tourists who were seen enjoying the colorful folk shows and Sufi songs.

Speaking on the occasion, Assistant Director, Tourism, Dr Javed-ur Rehman said that colorful cultural events amidst Skiing activities at Gulmarg are meant to entertain the Tourists and introduce them to the rich culture of Kashmir. “A grand function will be held here at Gulmarg on New Year’s Eve for which preparations are in full swing,” he added.

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