India rings Christmas bells with world
The Santa comes ringing his bell all the way with his kitty full of goodies as Christmas is celebrated in all parts of the world on Tuesday, with India staging no exception to plunge headlong in the festive spirit, despite the shadow of violence and protest leaving many in the country restless.
Christmas marks the annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on Dec 25 by millions of people across the world.
It is a feast central to the Christian liturgical year, which closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide.
Christmas is a civil holiday in many parts of the globe, which is now celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians in India, as it adds to one more excuse for festive frenzy Indians.
In Kolkata, all the major bakery shops have been spotted with long queues as people wait to pick up their favourite flavours in cakes, pastries, muffins, cookies and other savouries, braving their way in the chilly winter winds.
"I am ready to wait for two hours to get a Nahoum's fruit cake for my family," said one of the hundreds who had queued up on Christmas eve to buy a cake in the famous New Market cake shop.
Kolkatans have also left no room to do justice to the celebrations as a large number of people were spotted since Sunday eve, purchasing the Christmas trees, bells, streamers and other requisites to decorate their homes.
Right from the eve of Dec 24, Park Street and the New Market area in Esplanade have been flooded with footfalls, with streets wearing the garland of lights and streamers.
Sweta Das, a corporate trainee in Kolkata said, "Do we Kolkatans spare any festival? Well I plan to have lunch with my friends and then head towards the Park Street Cemetery wearing the Santa Claus cap."
Places like St. Paul Cathedral Church in Central Kolkata, Indian Museum, Victoria Memorial and Alipore Zoo are expected to witness maximum number of visitors.
On the other hand, the Indian capital being literally out on the streets to protest against the gang rape of the 23 years old medical student, will have an upsetting Christmas this year.
Mumbai on the other hand as usual has geared up to celebrate Christmas with lots of joy, merry making and attending church services.
The street side stalls have been spotted displaying many decorations and Santa outfits for children on this day.
Many shops across the city have their own Santa Claus, who distribute sweets and small gifts to the kids visiting their shop, with construction of sledges with reindeers outside the malls along with Christmas Trees to add to the decor.
Not limiting the celebrations to just cakes and decors, people across the country will indulge in several Christmas bashes at discotheques, banquets and private parties.
"We'll have a nightlong party at a friend's place with lots of music and dances," said a young banker, Rupesh Kaur.
Meanwhile, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greeted citizens on the auspicious occasion of Christmas.
PM, Prez wishe Indians:
In a message, Prime Minister said that Christmas is a special opportunity to spread the spirit of peace.
"The festival of Christmas gives the hope to strengthen the values of brotherhood, tolerance and caring. May the festival bring happiness and prosperity to all, " Manmohan Singh said.
President Pranab Mukherjee, however, did not stop from mentioning the horrific Delhi rape to convey his message of peace to people.
"We mark Christmas at a time when the nation is joined in anguish and distress over the recent horrific attack on a young girl in New Delhi.
"I laud the courage and tenacity of this young lady and her family. On this Christmas day, let us join in prayer for the full and speedy recovery of this strong and courageous girl," the President said.
"Let us resolve to redouble our efforts for the protection of women and their welfare. Let us strive to ensure that women feel safe and secure at all times in our country."
The message of peace and introspection also poured in from Vatican. At the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI said: "The great moral question of our attitude toward the homeless, toward refugees and migrants takes on a deeper dimension: Do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him?"
"The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent," rued the Pope.
He urged the people to not be so full of themselves and find room for God.
He also prayed for peace in West Asia.
"Let us pray that Israelis and Palestinians be able to live their lives in the peace of the one God and in freedom."
Celebs tweet Merry Christmas
Celebrities have also showered their wishes via social networking site.
Bollywood Superstar Shah Rukh Khan tweeted:"Merry Christmas....Ho Ho Ho Hope... for all kids and grown ups alike. Have a good life... "
Bollywood actor Boman Irani tweeted:"Merry Christmas to one and all!!!"
Fashion designer Manish Malhotra tweeted,"Merry x'mas everyone :-) haappiness always :-)"
Bollywood star Akshay Kumar tweeted:"Merry Christmas everyone!I hope some day,1 day u become ur own Santa and achieve all that u wish for yourself and ur loved ones. Stay blessed. "
Film maker Madhur Bhandarkar teeted:"May the Christmas season fill your home with joy, your heart with love, and your life with laughter.Merry Christmas."
West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle tweeted:"Merry Christmas My Jamaican and Caribbean People! Best Wishes!"
Bollywood beauty Preity Zinta posted :"I look outside the window and see snowflakes descending on the ground....so here I am Wishing u all a Merry Christmas full of love and Peace ! "
Singer and music composer Vishal Dadlani tweeted:" Flight delayed again. Looks like I'ma be spending most of Christmas, travelling. Thanks, Jet. Hope you have a great year too!"
Singer Lata Mangeshkar tweeted:"Namaskaar, It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.... Merry Christmas to all..."
Bengali actor Parambrata, who made a national impact with his role as a cop in Kahaani sharing the screen space with Vidya Balan, tweeted in Bengali:"Shubho Jishu Dibosh bondhura!!" (Merry Christmas, friends).
Actor Riteish Deshmukh tweeted:"Merry X'Mas to all- Happiness, Peace, Prosperity and Love."
Actor-director Farhan Akhtar tweeted:"Merry Christmas to all. tis the season to be jolly-well introspective. peace out."
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who won another election in the state with a thumping majority tweeted:" Wishing Merry Christmas to all. May your wishes be fulfilled and you be blessed with happiness, peace and joy."
Actor and social activist Anupam Kher tweeted :"Merry Christmas to All. Love, Happiness, Peace and Prosperity. :) "