By Ms .ManiKuntala Chowdhury
Shillong (Meghalaya), Dec 25 : ” Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let the earth receive her king” .On a cold night during winter solstice Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The traditional Christian narrative delineated in the New testament says that Jesus was born in accordance with messianic prophecies to virgin mother Mary when Joseph and Mary arrived in the city of Bethlehem inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where Lord Jesus Christ was born with angels proclaiming this news to the shepherds who further disseminated the good news of the birth of savior and Messiah.
For Christians believing that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity is considered to be the primary purpose of celebrating Christmas . Billions of people across the world celebrate Christmas on 25th of December commemorating the birth of Lord Jesus Christ.
Hymns reverberated through the churches and dwellings across the state on Friday night as Christians offered prayers to celebrate the birth of the lord .
The pandemic did to certain extent dampen the spirit of Christmas and was quite low key this year due to the restrictions imposed by the government due to the pandemic and faithful’s were more engrossed in prayers.
Christmas is celebrated with religious fervor in the spirit of love and brotherhood in entire state along with the rest of the world every year. Carol singing , exchange of gifts , mid night masses ,church services, sumptuous food ,display of decorations including Christmas trees , lightings etc. mark the celebration of Christmas.
Another highlight of state is that people of all faiths here participate in the celebrations .
As Christmas coincides with the year ending and winter holidays in many parts of the world Christmas is celebrated with pomp and grandeur along with lot of sociocultural activities but in this part of the country Christmas is celebrated in its true spirit.
Defying the fall in mercury level thousands assemble in the churches for midnight mass in Shillong .Carol singing across the road with Santa Claus waving at each and everyone exchanging Christmas greetings is an adorable sight in Shillong.
This year, however , due to pandemic , on going agitation and financial stress hitting severely the true spirit of Christmas was not evident .
The tradition of gifting is a reflection of the love and selflessness taught by the Lord .To reach out in love and to help those who are less fortunate during the festive time a lot of charitable work is undertaken by various organizations as well as individuals every year in and around Shillong.
Churches across the state organize community feat especially for the poor and the downtrodden .
This tradition involves heightened economic activities and is a key sale period for retailers and businesses entrepreneurs. But this year most of the business men in the city,s business hub police bazar look dismayed.
Limited customers turned up for purchasing gifts and decorative items. There is resentment among the faithful’s for restrictions imposed by the Government in Carol singing across the road There is also resentment on restrictions on numbers of faithful’s for attending the church services.
Illumination in the public places in the city of Shillong has been done keeping in pace with the yesteryears but overall festive look in in the city lacked the usual celebration mood of Christmas.
People offered prayers in the churches and greeted each other after the midnight mass while following the SOP issued by the government.
Church elders said that all the churches are following the protocols strictly and are ensuring social distancing is followed during the service .
On Friday evening Police Bajar , the city’s commercial hub looked festive as people rushed out for the last last-minute shopping. The decorated old Assembly building in the backdrop added much to the color .
Bara bajar or Iewduh also saw a huge turnout all strictly following the protocols laid down by the government .
State Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma extended his greetings to all the citizens of the state . He said that Christmas will be celebrated differently this year but may each of us find joy and warmth in the closeness of our family and dear ones.