Vikash Sharma

The Christmas preparations are in full swing in different parts of Odisha. Considering the prevalent COVID situation, the celebrations are likely to be a low-key affair this year as well. Official sources said churches across Odisha have already organised cultural programmes and carols as per Covid-19 protocols which marks the pre-Christmas celebrations.

The organisers are not leaving any stone unturned to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. “We organised Christmas carol programme and prayed for world peace,” said Smruti Ranjan Mohapatra, an official of Odia Baptist Church, Sambalpur.

The preparations have almost reached the final stages in churches and the district administrations have issued necessary guidelines for Christmas celebrations.

Kandhamal ADM Basant Sahu said that only 50 persons will be allowed in small churches and 100 persons in big churches will be allowed to attend the religious activities at a time.

“A district-wise preparatory meeting was held and several proposals were discussed. Any kind of rally has been banned. All the Covid-19 protocols including use of masks, sanitisers and social distancing norms will be strictly followed,” said Sahu.

A Peace Committee meeting was held in Kandhamal district ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. No rally and procession will be organised and security has been beefed up in Kandhamal district, said SP Vinit Agarwal.

“All stakeholders have agreed to cooperate with the administration. Around 25 platoons of police force will be deployed for security and other law and order management,” said Agarwal.

Baliguda SDPO GR. Raghavendra said a flag march was conducted ahead of the Christmas celebrations in the region. Adequate security personnel will be deployed in and around churches, he added.