Jorhat, Dec. 26: Christmas was celebrated in a grand manner by all and sundry at Xudhakantha Dr Bhupen Hazarika Park at Rajabari here last evening.
More than 600 people, with children in tow, had turned up at the park to participate in the festival, which continued late into the night.
It was merrymaking all the way for the children, with two Santa Clauses handing out gifts and music and games, adding to the spirit of Christmas.
Towards the end of the programme, a group from the adjoining Rajabari Mission compound enthralled the people with melodious Christmas carols.
Samir Roy, secretary of The Event, the socio-cultural organisation that organised the celebrations, said it had twin motives in celebrating Christmas at the park.
“Christmas is a time for celebrations and this should not be confined to one community. We can bridge the gap between religions if we take to celebrating each other’s festivals. People from all communities had turned up at the programme, which we had widely publicised. The children were thrilled to interact with the two Santa Clauses and receive chocolates and presents from him. Makhan Chandra Adhyapak and Majidur Khan had dressed up as Santa Claus,” he said.
Another motive was to make the park, which was recently renamed after late Bhupen Hazarika, more popular among the people of the town.
“Tucked away in a corner of the town, many people here do not know of this park. It is going to the dogs and there is no money to pay the few employees who look after it. We decided that this was the right venue for such a celebration. We might organise more programmes here soon,” Roy added.
Rajiv Baruah, one of the parents, said he came to the programme with his two sons because he wanted them to grow up without any prejudices. “I want my children to grow up without feeling that religion can be a barrier to relationships. They should celebrate Durga Puja, Id and Christmas equally,” he said.
Elsewhere, Christmas was celebrated with much fanfare.
At the Jorhat Baptist Church here, which is more than a 100 years old, Shillong Baptist Church pastor Jiten Gogoi delivered the Christmas message at the morning service yesterday. This was followed by an extempore speech contest and a night of carol singing. A sports event and community feast organised today was attended by more than 600 people.