After two years of low-key celebrations due to Covid-19 pandemic, Christmas was celebrated with usual pomp and gaiety in the Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on Sunday.
Large number of people attended midnight mass and Sunday morning special prayers.
Special prayers in churches after midnight, carol singing and Secret Santa at workplaces and bursting of firecrackers were the highlights of celebrations.
Churches in twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad were tastefully decorated and illuminated on the occasion. Devotees were seen thronging the churches since Saturday night.
Churches in other towns of Telangana and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh also witnessed special prayers.
The festivities began with midnight mass at many churches in Secunderabad, which has a sizable population of Christians.
There was an air of festivity as people exchanged Christmas greetings and gifts. Churches organised different cultural programmes for senior citizens, couples, youngsters and children.
Huge congregations were seen at SCI Wesley Church and 200-year-old St John’s Church in Secunderabad. Devotees also attended mass at St Mary’s Church, All Saints Church, Wesley Church, Holy Trinity Church and Millennium Methodist Church. The priests prayed for peace and highlighted the message of Jesus’ birth.
The Anglo-Indian community in Lalaguda in Secunderabad celebrated Christmas with enthusiasm and in a traditional manner. In Little England, as Lalaguda is known, the community celebrates the festival in their unique style.
Cake and wine making at home is an integral part of the celebrations for the community.
Attired in their best, men, women and children attended the midnight services in specially decorated churches.
Christian families cut the cakes as part of the celebrations and greeted each other on the occasion.
The three-day celebrations also began at the historic Church of South India (CSI) at Medak, about 100 km from Hyderabad.
Medak Church, the second biggest of its kind in Asia, was constructed between 1914 and 1924. It has been built with granite in the Gothic style with the story of the Bible painted on its stained glass windows. The historic church was illuminated on the occasion.
The celebrations were also held in Khammam, Adilabad and other towns in Telangana. In Andhra Pradesh, the celebrations were held in Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Ongole, Kadapa, Bheemavaram and other towns.
Christmas celebrations were also held at Andhra Pradesh capital Amaravathi. In Prakasam district, pastors conducted special prayers at the century-old historical church Chirala St Louis Marks Lutheran church.
Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, Chief Ministers K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan and Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy extended greetings to the people.
The Telangana governor, in her message, noted that Christmas is a joyous occasion to celebrate the birth of Jesus and cherish his ideals.
“His life symbolizes love, forgiveness, truth, compassion, brotherhood, and sacrifice. I wish this Christmas to bring in boundless joy, love, peace and prosperity to all. In the true spirit of Christmas, let us resolve to make this world more prosperous, healthy, peaceful and compassionate,” she said.
Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao stated that the teachings of Jesus Christ, who spread the values of peace, compassion, tolerance and love to the world, contributed to the universal human brotherhood.
CM KCR said that on one hand, the fields of science and technology are progressing immensely and on the other hand human values are becoming extinct. “At this juncture, Christ’s teachings are relevant. It is indispensable to practice the great virtue of forgiving the enemy, showing love, compassion and patience towards fellow human beings,” he said.