GUWAHATI/ SHILLONG/ITANAGAR: Christmas will be marked by low-key celebrations in the North East on Friday due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Churches in the city have made elaborate plans to celebrate the festival by following the COVID-19 safety protocols.
"The main mass will be conducted; but outsiders will not be allowed to be present this year. We will restrict the number at around one hundred," said an organizer at St. Joseph's Church at Don Bosco School, Pan Bazar.
Similar COVID protocols will also be followed at the Guwahati Baptist Church in Pan Bazar and other churches in the city. Most of the events related with the Christmas celebrations will go online to avoid a large gathering. There will be no carol singing or community feast or any gathering of people at the Guwahati Baptist Church.
The pandemic has failed to dampen the spirits of devotees. They are planning to celebrate the festival with friends and family members while avoiding any public gathering.
Many areas in the city especially Pan Bazar is decked up with twinkling lights and decorations adorning its buildings and streets. The city streets are exhibiting an array of Christmas items in decorated shops and makeshift kiosks, especially put up for the festive season.
Other NE States will also celebrate the Christmas by adhering to the COVID-safety protocols.
Assam Governor, Prof. Jagdish Mukhi has extended his wishes to the people of Assam on the auspicious occasion of Christmas.
"On this day, we celebrate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ who gave us the message of peace, sacrifice, love and compassion. So on the day of Christmas, let us all rededicate ourselves to the teachings of Lord Jesus for strengthening universal brotherhood and harmonious co-existence," said Prof. Mukhi.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said in a statement, "I wish everyone, in the State and outside, merry Christmas. May this occasion bring peace and strengthen the spirit of universal brotherhood, compassion and harmony."
SHILLONG BUREAU ADDS: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma has extended Christmas greetings to the people of the State.
He further said, "This year has been a tough year for all of us. The COVID-19 pandemic has crippled nations and governance and put a strain on human spirit even as he expressed his gratitude to the COVID workers on the field.
"I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Health department, the frontline workers, the administration, the police personnel and everyone who is working tirelessly and sacrificing their personal commitment to help others, thereby, restoring the faith in mankind which is also the essence of the spirit of Christmas." (Staff Correspondent)
CLEANING DRIVES IN SHILLONG: As Meghalaya in general and its capital city Shillong in particular were hit by continuous protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and later the lockdown imposed across the State due to COVID-19, many localities had to cancel the annual cleaning drives.
However some localities organized the cleaning drive ahead of Christmas.
Residents and traditional institutions of different localities in Shillong were engaged in cleaning drives to clean their neighborhood ahead of Christmas and the new year.
Such cleaning drives have become a trend in every locality in the city to prepare for the coming of Christmas and the new year.
The Dorbars of Mawlai, Jaiaw, Malki and other areas conducted cleaning drives by hiring labourers instead of the usual tradition of local residents cleaning their areas in which many residents — form children to senior citizens — used to participate.
A resident of Mawlai observed that such cleaning drives brings together the community, adding that because of the pandemic and the growing protests and agitations in the State things will be different this year.
"The city's population has increased and so have the filth in our city and localities. I feel that the Dorbar Shnongs of various localities should come together and jointly organize such cleaning drives every couple of months after everything returns to normalcy," he added. (A Reporter)
ITANAGAR CORRESPONDENT ADDS: Arunachal Pradesh Governor Brig (retd) Dr B.D. Mishra and Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Thursday greeted the people of the State on the eve of Christmas, and hoped that the festive occasion will ushers-in peace, love and tranquility throughout the State.
The Governor in his message said, "As we celebrate this special occasion and look forward to the coming New Year, I hope that in months to come we shall be able to find will and ways to strengthen our communities to contribute for a better future for all and above every niche for more vibrant and progressive Arunachal Pradesh."
He called upon the people to resolve to beat back the threat of COVID-19 pandemic by observing all necessary precautions and protocols.
The Governor and Chief Minister Pema Khandu also wished the people for the 'Good Governance Day' celebrated every year on the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
On the occasion of X-Mas, Chief Minister Pema Khandu observed in a message, "Christmas is a festival that strengthens the bond of brotherhood that we all share irrespective of our beliefs. May this Christmas unfold another new chapter in communal harmony, brotherhood and peace and prosperity of our beloved Arunachal Pradesh. Merry Christmas to all!"
State Legislative Assembly Speaker Pasang D Sona also extended his warm greetings and good wishes to the people on the joyous occasion of Christmas.
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