With only hours to go for Christmas, the city is decked up and the glitter is way brighter than in the churches. The major churches are decorated and illuminated for the festival inviting the Infant Jesus to be born.

Representatives of the churches are busy making arrangements for the festival. The places of worship are embellished with flags, balloons and Christmas trees. Specials prayers and songs and sermons have been planned on Thursday, Christmas day – Friday.

The Gunadala Mary Matha Church which has a large following in the region plays a major role in Christmas celebrations here. A large number of devotees started coming to the church from Tuesday. It is all festive moods in and around the church which has been decorated with various attractive lighting system including laser lights. Huge stars dotted the skyline as faithful geared up for the midnight mass to be held on Thursday to witness the birth of Jesus.

Speaking to The Hans India, Gunadala Mary Matha Church rector Fr M Chinnappa, said that over 5,000 people from different places will gather in the church premises on the night of December 24 and offer special prayers to Jesus Christ.

There will be a procession on the streets of Gunadala between 10 pm and 11.30 pm, which will be followed by a Eucharist, cutting of Christmas cake, singing of carols and exchange of festival greetings will form part of the celebrations.

Besides devotion, fun and frolic, the festival is also an occasion for charity activities, such as distribution of clothes and sweets to the destitute and organizing poor feeding at cathedrals. The first prayer would be held at 4.30 am, he said.

Meanwhile, St Paul’s Cathedral near Nirmala Convent, the St. Peter's Cathedral in One Town area, and a host of other cathedrals wear an inviting look to welcome the teeming crowds. Preparations are also in full swing among Christian households to welcome the festival and all the good wishes it brings with it.

Young and old alike went on a shopping spree as shopkeepers offered attractive discounts to woo them. The month-long semi-Christmas celebrations culminate on the Christmas eve with youth singing carols in different churches. The community leaders pooled money and distributed new clothes and groceries to the downtrodden sections of people.

By:Sistla Dakshina Murthy