Christians ring in Christmas with carols, church bells in Maharashtra

Mumbai: Over a million Christians spread across Maharashtra rung in Christmas by singing carols, ringing church bells, lighting candles, attending midnight mass and exchanging Christmas greetings here on Monday at midnight.

Several lakh Christians, dressed in their warm finery, thronged churches, schools, colleges and open grounds to attend the special midnight mass which started at 10 p.m. in view of the noise pollution rules enforced in Maharashtra.

Many Christian-dominated areas of Mumbai like Colaba, Fort, Mazagaon, Byculla, Marine Lines, Mumbai Central, Dadar, Bandra, Santacruz, Andheri, Malad and Borivali wore a festive look since the past one week.

Most Christian homes were lit up with Christmas stars, twinkling fairy lights, colourful festoons and big and small Christmas trees to celebrate the Yuletide spirit.

Later, many Children and adults dressed in Santa Claus costumes went around distributing sweets and gifts to the poor in their localities.

Malls, multiplexes and shopping plazas were decked up with lights and Christmas trees for the festive season to lure shoppers, offering special festive season discounts and freebies.

After the Midnight Mass, there were big and small private parties in which the non-Christians greeted their brethren with hugs and exchanged Christmas greetings as the festivities continued through the night.

Elsewhere in Thane, Palghar, Ratnagiri, Nashik, Pune, Solapur and other cities in the state which have a sizeable Christian population, Christmas was celebrated with joy, religious fervour and revelry.

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

The Christmas break also enabled thousands of non-Christians from Mumbai, Thane and Pune to revel in Christmas festivities in tourist resorts like Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Jawhar and coastal Konkan.