Ranchi/Thiruvananthapuram/New Delhi [India], December 25 (ANI): In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the prayer ceremony on Christmas was a low-key affair across churches in India allowing entry to a limited number of devotees.
Speaking to ANI, the Secretary of Ranchi's GEL Church, Pradip Kujur said, "We are celebrating Christmas in relatively low key this year. We are following the government's COVID guidelines and will allow a maximum of 200 people inside the church."
Annie Bara, a devotee attending the prayers ceremony at the Ranchi church said, "The get together we used to have earlier will not happen this year. Maybe this is something God wishes. Thankfully, the church is open and we could come to pray. The church also arranged webcasting of the prayer meet."
Devotees gathered for Christmas prayers in the morning at Thiruvananthapuram's St. Joseph's Metropolitan Cathedral were seen following the COVID guidelines as the church authorities allowed few people at a time.
A similar scene was observed in the churches of Bhubaneswar where visitors were allowed to enter only after hand sanitization. The authorities kept a close watch on social distancing.
Meanwhile, Delhi's Sacred Heart Cathedral remained closed for visitors on Christmas in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The midnight mass was also not organised here on December 24 as a precautionary measure.
President Ram Nath Kovind greeted citizens of the nation on Christmas and expressed hope that the festival would help strengthen harmony in society.
"Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope this festival nurtures peace and prosperity and helps strengthen harmony in society. Let us follow Christ's teachings of love, compassion, and charity, committing ourselves to the welfare of our society and nation," the official account of Rashtrapati Bhavan wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also extended his greetings and best wishes to the people of the country on the occasion of Christmas.
"The life and principles of Lord Christ give strength to millions across the world. May his path keep showing the way in building a just and inclusive society. May everybody be happy and healthy" he tweeted.
Christmas is celebrated every year on December 25 and marks the birth of Jesus Christ. (ANI)