Maharashtra celebrates Christmas

Maharashtra celebrates Christmas

Christmas was celebrated with joy and fervor by over a million Christians spread across Mumbai and Maharashtra, here on Tuesday

Mumbai, Dec 25 : Christmas was celebrated with joy and fervor by over a million Christians spread across Mumbai and Maharashtra, here on Tuesday.

Early in the day the faithfuls thronged around 200 big and small churches in the city and suburbs marking the birth of Jesus Christ.

Many rang in the Christmas at midnight of Monday-Tuesday singing carols, hymns, sounding church bells and greeting each other 'Merry Christmas'.

Several lakhs draped in warm finery, attended the special Midnight Mass in churches, schools, colleges or open grounds which started at 10 p.m. on Monday that lasted till early on Tuesday.

Colaba, Fort, Mazagaon, Byculla, Marine Lines, Mumbai Central, Dadar, Bandra, Santacruz, Andheri, Malad and Borivali have been wearing a dazzling festive atmosphere since a week in Mumbai.

Gigantic multi-coloured stars, with "Merry X'Mas" in large letters, have been put up in prominent squares, housing complexes and other places.

Most Christian homes were lit up with Christmas stars, twinkling fairy lights, colourful festoons, big and small Christmas Trees and the benevolent Santa Claus.

Mumbai's newest landmark, the Worli Christmas Tree, holding a record as the country's tallest naturally growing pine conifer tree, is now around 67 feet tall and beckons one from far away.

Tended lovingly since over 46 years by Douglas Saldanha and his elder sister Twila, who passed away in 2005, the tree shines in full glory with a big star at the top, over 10,000 fairy lights, cherubic angels, little fairies, reindeers and snowmen, streamers and festoons, tiny crosses and a paunchy and cheerful Santa, outside the Adarsh Nagar home.

"This year, the tree stands at more than an eight-storied building. We had a special inaugural event last evening and now many people have started coming to view," Saldanha told IANS.

Following the Midnight Mass festivities, there were big and small private parties.

Many youngsters and adults in Santa costumes went around distributing sweets and gifts to small children and the poor, visited orphanages, destitute homes and charitable organisations to spread love.

A majority of the malls, multiplexes and shopping plazas were specially decked up to lure buyers offering special festive season discounts and freebies.

Thane, Palghar, Ratnagiri, Nashik, Pune, Solapur and other cities also celebrated the birth of Christ.

Various Christian communities, like Roman Catholics, East Indians, Marathi, Konkani, and others celebrated it in their own traditional ways.

Many also availed their year-end break to hillstations or beaches, with most tourist resorts in Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Jawhar, coastal Konkan booked to their brim till New Year week.

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