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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Kandhamal: Covid-19 induced restrictions failed to dampen the Christmas festive spirit among members of the Christian community, though the celebrations were a low-key affair this year in the district.

Though the churches were decked up with lighted altars and Xmas trees decorated with gifts, the attendance at the mid-night masses was lesser as the district administration ensured strict compliance to the Covid-19 guidelines.

“Things have changed drastically over the planet following the Covid-19 pandemic. But the love for the Lord and Jesus as well as the enthusiasm to celebrate Christmas remains the same in us,” said a parishioner, who visited a churh at Phulbani to join the mass.

While soothing carols and music with a dazzling Xmas tree rang at St Vincent’s Catholic church in Phulbani, an atmosphere of peace and serenity pervaded as around 50 devotees observed the rituals to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.

According to sources, batches of 10-15 people were allowed into the churches to offer prayers by wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and following other Covid-19 guidelines strictly.

Adequate security was deployed in all blocks of the district to ensure that people adhered to the guidelines while celebrating the festivities.

“Unlike earlier, we couldn’t celebrate Christmas in a big way this year due to the Covid-19 imposed restriction. The limited number of devotees prayed for world peace. We also prayed Jesus to end this pandemic soon. Let mankind lead a healthy, prosperous and peaceful life again,” said Father Udayanath Bisoyi, priest at a Catholic Church.

Due to the pandemic restrictions, most people chose to celebrate the occasion at their respective homes along with family members.

“People have extended their full support to the administration by making the Christmas celebrations a low key affair. We thank God for keeping us safe and alive so that we could participate in the holy Christmas Celebrations,” said Sarojini Singh, a devotee.

Many devotees also offered respect to Jesus Christ by lighting candles in the church.

“Christmas is a way to unite people of every religion. But due to the pandemic many people couldn’t join the celebration,” said another devotee Rajina Mantri.

“We prayed Lord Jesus for the wellbeing of the whole humanity and to keep the Covid warriors, who are risking their lives to keep all of us healthy, safe” added Mantri.

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