Bengaluru,DHNS: Note ban effects dampen festival spirit. With candles, fireworks and carols, Christmas Day was welcomed by people in various churches across the city.
Late in the evening, a large number of people gathered in St Mary’s Basilica, one of the oldest churches in Bengaluru. Mass was held in English, Kannada and Tamil.
Dressed in their festive best and wearing Christmas caps, families and groups of friends chatted merrily as they waited for midnight to approach. People took selfies in front of the illuminated church and Christmas Tree. Others chose to pray in silence by themselves.
Father Francis Fernandes, assistant parish priest, gave the Christmas message. At 12 midnight, Infant Jesus was welcomed by singing “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” the hymn that the angels sang when his birth was announced. Baby Jesus was placed in the crib and verses from the Bible about his birth were read out. The choir sang hymns like ‘Joy to the World’, ‘Silent Night’ to welcome the King.
Christina Latha, her niece Shirin Raj and son Rohan Ronaldo were part of the choir singing in Kannada.
“This is a time when we forget all our sadness and get together with our family for celebration. It is all about sharing the joy,” Latha said. Christmas is also a season when they give to those in need. “We distribute food, clothes and gifts to those in need, to celebrate the coming of Christ,” Shirin said.
This year, however, the festival spirit has been dampened by demonetisation. “During Christmas, we need to buy gifts and clothes for everyone. Since we are getting only limited cash from banks and ATMs, we have not been able to spend much,” said Latha. The festival is not as grand as it was every year, she said.
To some, Christmas is about food and gifts, but for Supriya Chandrashekhar, it is about Christ and his simplicity. “All over the world Christmas has been commercialised but the festival is actually about how a King was born in a manger,” she said.
Born Hindu, Supriya has been following the Christian faith since Class 4. “I read the Bible and I liked the message,” the software engineer said. She celebrates the festival every year with a visit to the Church for the midnight mass and a family dinner.
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