Bhubaneswar, Dec. 24: Twinkling Christmas stars and tinkling bells in the winter chill have set the perfect stage to welcome Santa Claus to the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The festival, which marks the birth of Jesus Christ, is being celebrated with zeal and religious fervour in both the cities.
A Christmas vigil mass was organised on Christmas Eve at St. Vincent’s Catholic Church at Satya Nagar where excerpts from the Bible were read out describing the story behind the birth of Jesus and significance of Christmas.
The priest at the church, Father Santosh Diggal, said more than the materialistic celebrations, Christmas was about spirituality. “The basic principle is that God came in the form of a human, but he was not sinful. God loved humanity. The message is that we should love not only God, but also each other. The spirit of Christmas lies in being a better person,” he said.
A similar gathering and prayer would take place in the church on Christmas morning.
The same religious fervour was witnessed at the Protestant church at Unit-IV. The Church of Christ (Union Church) has also planned a midnight prayer service. Music and Christmas carols will follow the reading of the Bible.
For Christmas day, two worship services have been lined up at 10am in English and 3.30pm in Odia. Mumbai-based pastor Rajesh Kumar will speak at both the gatherings. In the evening, a cultural programme, named Nila Rati, will be organised at the church.
Speaking on the enthusiasm in youngsters towards religious ceremonies, Church of Christ secretary Paresh Das said: “The youth play a major role in Christmas and other programmes of the church. They take part in the choir, play musical instruments, do social work and help in organising the worship services. Most of them are deeply inclined towards spiritual matters.”
As a prelude to Christmas, the Church had organised four cultural soirees.
Daffodil Sahoo, a member of the capital city’s Christian community, said: “I will visit the church and say my prayers. Apart from that, Christmas is mostly about meeting friends, relatives and neighbours and celebrating with them. We prepare various kinds of cakes, cookies and other delicacies. Decorating our homes and putting the Christmas star on the Christmas tree is a must.”
She said some members of her family also dressed up as Santa Claus to entertain the kids.
A large number of shops and vendors across the city have been selling Christmas trees and decorations as well as gifts and cards for the festival.
The revelry is no different in Cuttack where the Baptist and Catholic churches have been decorated with colourful lights, Christmas trees and the scenes of the birth of Jesus with dolls and sculptures. All the churches in the city have been holding special prayers on the occasion.