|The faithful attend the midnight Mass (above) at St Mary’s Cathedral on Purulia Road in Ranchi on Tuesday, while priests take part in the special service at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Golmuri. Pictures by Prashant Mitra and Bhola Prasad
Christmas festivities were ushered in with a pledge to foster the spirit of peace and amity, as people of all faiths in Ranchi and Jamshedpur celebrated the birth of Jesus on Wednesday.
In Ranchi, in a unique gesture, hundreds from all faiths converged at Archbishop House on Wednesday afternoon to wish Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo a Merry Christmas.
Doctors, lawyers, policemen, professors, political activists, social workers, members of NGO Sadbhavna Manch and nuns and priests gathered at the gaily decked ground floor hall.
They admired the depiction of the Nativity scene in the hall — baby Jesus inside his crib in the manger, parents Joseph and Mary nearby and shepherds crouching over the newborn.
“I am overwhelmed by this spontaneous gathering of people of all faiths. I get many visitors on Christmas every year, but this was the largest gathering ever since I moved to Archbishop House in January 1985,” Cardinal Toppo said, thanking the gathering with folded hands.
“It is so heart-warming to see people from all creeds and walks of life come of their own accord to spread the message of peace and goodwill in these troubled times,” Toppo said.
On the significance of the day, he said: “Christmas connects mankind to god. Jesus was born so that we can experience our link with divinity.”
From city DSP Panchanan Singh to eminent doctors K.K. Sinha, Bharti Kashyap and Siddharth Mukherjee, lawyer Deepak Bharti, social worker P.P. Verma, political activists Ratan Tirkey and Chotu Singh, academics Shahid Hassan and Ahmad Sajjad, Jasbir Singh of Sadbhavna Manch, XISS director Alex Ekka, everyone wished for peace in 2014.
Nuns of St Anne’s Convent sportingly displayed percussion skills on drums and mandar. Sister Virginia, deputed at Archbishop House, and ophthalmic surgeon Bharti Kashyap, broke into an impromptu jig.
The Cardinal led the midnight Mass and early morning Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral.
From carols to cakes to candles to streamers, stars and gaily decked-up Christmas trees in homes, to solemn ringing of bells and prayers in the impressively decked up churches, Jamshedpureans celebrated Christmas with fervour.
In the city too, churches held the midnight Mass to signify the birth of Jesus and spread the message of universal peace. Prayers were held at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Golmuri, St Mary’s Church in Bistupur and others. Bishop Felix Toppo, who held the midnight Mass at St Joseph’s Cathedral, asked everyone to uphold the qualities of compassion and love. “This is the eternally relevant message of Jesus,” he said.
People also flocked to attend special prayer on Xmas morning at Beldih Baptist Church at Bistupur and Emanuel Baptist Church in Sitaramdera.