Kashmir Christians Celebrate Christmas

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Christmas 2016 at Holy Family Church in Srinagar

KL News Network

SRINAGAR

Christians celebrated the Christmas by offering special prayers in the two main churches of the city. The celebrations, however, were subdued.

There were lines of the minority community seen outside the main churches in Church Lane and the M A Road. Men, women and children assembled in forenoon and spend a few hours in prayers and interactions.

Officials said major gathering was reported from BB Cantt church where families of the servicemen and their relatives from the civil population jointly attended the mass. A similar function was reported from Baramulla, within the premises of the Saint Joseph school. A good gathering was also reported in south Kashmir’s Islamabad Church where the community runs a women exclusive hospital, the Mission Haspatal.

Christmas 2016 at Holy Family Church in Srinagar

Kashmir has one of the oldest Churches located in Gulmarg started by the British services personnel in pre-1947 era. It was renovated by the government a few years back. Normally the Western skiers stationed in the picnic spot go for Christmas celebrations there. However, no activity was reported from there as not many tourists are camping for lack of snow.

While in rest of India, the subdued celebrations were attributed to the crisis triggered by demonetization; in Kashmir it was the bloody summer that witnessed lot of killings in clashes between youth and the police men.

In anticipation of the festival, Church officials had said that the feast of the birth of Christ will be a simple ceremony.

There were a few Christian who are deputed in Srinagar on assignments. John Canty, the human resource and finance administrator with Médecins Sans Frontières is one of them.

“My morning commute is down one flight of stairs and I haven’t been late for work yet. Well, we are pretty much always at work. Our office is on the ground floor of our compound and the living quarters are upstairs. I am also living and working with my international staff work colleagues. I am lucky though as we get on really well,” Canty had written on a website back home in Ireland.

“This Christmas I will remain in Kashmir. Our project co-ordinator from Germany has promised to make me some Christmas dinner. I doubt we will be able to find turkey around here. If I was at home for Christmas, it would be meeting friends in Cork, Innishannon, Dublin or wherever the fun might be. Having a Christmas morning swim in Coolmain. Overdosing on watching soccer. Climbing Carrauntoohill.”

In Kashmir there are two festivals which are traditionally considered with snow – the Hearath of Kashmiri Pandits and the Christmas of Christians. Incidentally, the Christmas witnessed improvement of weather this fall as people expected snow.

Christmas 2016: Minority Christian families gathering for prayers in the premises of Holy Family Church at Srinagar’s MA Road.

In anticipation of the Christian festival, governor, Chief Minister had extended greetings to the religious minority. Unlike Kashmir, Jammu has more numbers and the festival is colourful and comparatively widespread.

On the eve of festival, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti hoped the occasion will be a harbinger of communal harmony, love for humanity and compassion. Such occasions remind us to rekindle the spirit of harmony, brotherhood and lead a virtuous life, she said.

“Festivals are important part of our lives, which reflects the bonds amity, composite culture of togetherness and harmony in the country particularly in our state,” Congress President said in a message on Christmas. “Let the new year would bring cheer, happiness to people of all the three regions.”

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