| Children sing at a prayer meeting in Shillong on Thursday and (below) overhead illumination at Laitumkhrah in Shillong for the Christmas and New Year celebrations . Pictures by UB Photos
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful Norman Vincent Peale
Shillong, Dec. 19: Dipping mercury, chock-a-block roads, festive shoppers and an array of decorative lights across the streets are some of the prominent features in Meghalaya in the run-up to the festival of peace, joy, hope and love Christmas.
Liberated momentarily from the agitation by pro-ILP pressure groups but bracing for the bandh call by rebels, the spirit of merry-making appears to be gripping this hill state notwithstanding the rapid drop in temperature.
In the capital city, and even at Tura, the nerve centre of the Garo hills region, people are busy preparing for Christmas with carols, get-togethers, prayer service, and feeding and clothing underprivileged children each passing day.
People in Garo hills are particularly enthusiastic during Christmas. One could hear carol-singing late into the night with the advent of Yuletide.
At the recently concluded Ahaia festival in Tura, a Christmas carol singing competition was a part of the itinerary.
Another significant aspect in the run-up to December 25 is the benevolence of people who came forward to offer a taste of the festive season to streetchildren.
Soon after the culmination of the Assembly polls in February, Meghalaya was plunged into a cycle of crises with the ILP agitation dominating the headlines.
However, with no fresh agitation until next year barring a bandh on Monday, people are now willing to welcome Christmas with pomp and gaiety, and above all, with peace, joy and hope.
This festive season is epitomised by music. The Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum has come forward to organise the Shillong Choir Festival, where renowned groups from the Northeast will sing at the State Central Library here on Monday to ring in the joyful season.
The Shillong Chamber Choir, which recently performed at Rashtrapati Bhavan, will be heading the evening musical show. Other groups include Serenity Choir, KERYGMA Choir, Mizo Presbyterian Choir and Ameu Useu and the choir.
The last is a renowned group from Nagaland while Serenity and KERYGMA are from Meghalaya.
To add to the gaiety, the forum will also put up a 17-foot Christmas tree, forum general secretary Ian Khongmen said.
The Shillong Choir Festival is an effort to enrich and promote some positive effect in the city in this season of peace, joy, hope, brotherhood and reconciliation, Khongmen said, adding that the forum plans to make the festival an annual affair.