Srinagar, Dec 25: Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ (AS), was celebrated with religious fervor and gaiety across J&K on Saturday. This year, special prayers were also offered at historic St Luke's Church in Srinagar, which was inaugurated by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday.
This historic Church was decorated and devotees thronged it to offer special prayers. Muslims also visited the Church to extend greetings to the Christian brethren.
Churches across Kashmir were decked with Christmas trees.
The day started with special prayers at all the Churches while main prayers were held at Church Lane and at historic St Luke's Church Dalgate in Srinagar and Holy Catholic Church at MA Road Srinagar. Devotees also thronged the Saint Joseph's Church in north Kashmir's Baramulla district—the oldest Catholic Church in J&K—and at a church at the tourist resort of Gulmarg.
Donning the traditional red attire, Santa Claus engaged the kids by distributing candies and toys among them.
In his Christmas message, Father Pastor Eric told Greater Kashmir: “Christmas greetings to all. On this occasion I just want to tell that live in love and peace. Because we desperately want love in our society. With love only we can change our world into heaven. Pray for Kashmir peace and brotherhood in our society,” he said.
In his Christmas message, Father Suresh Britto of Holy Family Catholic Church at MA Road in Srinagar said the day is very important for the entire world when the birth of Jesus (AS) is being celebrated across the globe.
"Jesus was born to bring peace, so the message of Christmas is love and peace," he said.
The priest said the community held very special prayers for Jammu and Kashmir and for the peace and progress of the region. "Let this Christmas bring love and peace in Kashmir," he said.
He said Jesus (AS) in his life preached only love and peace and lived for peace only. A long prayer was held from 11 am at the Church in the heart of summer capital Srinagar.
A devotee, who also participated in the celebrations, told Greater Kashmir that minority communities are overwhelmed with the warmth from the majority community and “feel proud of being part of the composite culture of Kashmir”.
"I have been living here for the past several years. We all celebrate festivals together, be it Muslim festival or Christian or our Pandit," he added.