Srinagar, Dec 24: Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ (AS), would be celebrated with religious fervor and gaiety across J&K on Saturday. This year, the festival falls amid the reopening ceremony of historic St Luke's Church in Srinagar, which was inaugurated by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday.
Father Pastor Eric told Greater Kashmir that the main function would be held at Church Lane and at historic St Luke's Church Dalgate in Srinagar. The historic St Luke's Church at Dalgate is over 100-year old Church which
was fully renovated, conserved and opened for the public to offer prayers a day ago.
Father Suresh Britto of Holy Catholic Church said that the main function would be held at Holy Catholic Church at MA Road Srinagar. He said that the prayers would be offered at 11 am.
In view of Christmas, Churches in Kashmir have been decked with people having erected Christmas trees.
Prayers would be held also at Saint Joseph’s Church in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, the oldest Catholic Church in Jammu and Kashmir and at a Church in the tourist resort of Gulmarg.
On the day, donning the traditional red attire Santa Clause keeps the celebrating children happy by distributing candies and toys among them.
“The original meaning of Christmas is a special Church service, or mass, to celebrate the birth of Christ,” a Christian devotee said.
“The story of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus is particularly important in religious celebrations of Christmas,” he added.
The festival eve at Gulmarg is likely to be more attractive as a top winter tourist and adventure destination is dotted with tourists and adventure lovers alike on this occasion.
An official from the Tourism Department said that special programmes are being organised to entertain the tourists and local visitors on this festival.
“A group of priests offered the prayers today at Gulmarg Church. Our department is organising special programmes. Illumination, musical events are part of the occasion,” said an official.
LG Sinha greets people
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has greeted the people of Jammu & Kashmir on the joyous occasion of Christmas. In a message, the LG has said the festival is a celebration of peace, love, hope and harmony.
“Christmas provides an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of sharing and brotherhood. The festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ is an occasion to celebrate and imbibe Lord Christ's message of peace, love, compassion and forgiveness. We must rededicate ourselves for the welfare of humankind”, the LG said.
“May the Christmas this year usher in peace and joy for all," the LG prayed.
Advisors greet people on Christmas:
Advisors to Lieutenant Governor, Farooq Khan and Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar have extended warm greetings to the people of Jammu and Kashmir on the auspicious occasion of Christmas. In their message, the Advisors said that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Lord Jesus Christ and this festival reaffirms our faith in the values of compassion and forgiveness taught by Jesus Christ for the enlightenment of humanity.
“Let us all imbibe the Jesus Christ's teachings of love, compassion and humanity on this holy festival and commit ourselves to the welfare of our nation and society”, Advisors added. The Advisors also prayed for peace, progress and prosperity of Jammu and Kashmir.
Chief Secretary greets people:
Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta has extended greetings to people on the occasion of Christmas.
In his message on the eve of Christmas, the Chief Secretary said that Christianity teaches the principles of truthfulness, honesty, harmony, and sacrifice.
He has hoped that the festival shall bring greater peace and prosperity, and inspire people from all faiths to emulate the teachings of love and compassion for all.
Keeping in view the emergence of Omicron, the Chief Secretary urged people to follow COVID appropriate behaviour including mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand hygiene.
Farooq, Omar greet people on Christmas:
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah have also greeted people on the eve of Christmas, hoping the day augurs well for increased prospectus of peace and prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir.
A statement of NC issued here said that in his greetings, Farooq said, “I greet the Christian community on the auspicious occasion of Christmas with immense joy. It is the day of kindling spirit of service and compassion, devoting one’s life towards alleviating human suffering. I hope that the day acts as a harbinger of peace and prosperity throughout the world.”
Omar in his message said, “Brotherhood, harmony and amity are part of J&K's rich cultural legacy, which is exhibited through observances like Christmas.”
Sending greetings and warm wishes to all countrymen and women, he wished a joyous occasion to all celebrating the festival.
DGP greets people:
Director General of Police, J&K Dilbag Singh has greeted the people, all ranks of JKP, security forces, their families and families of martyrs on the eve of Marry Christmas.
He wished for a joyful festival. In his message, Singh has expressed hope that the festival will bring peace and happiness among the people of the UT including J&K Police personnel, security forces and the families of martyrs. “May the noble teachings of the Jesus Christ guide us all to preserve the unity and secular outlook of our country", the DGP has further said in his message.