Prayers, church bells herald Christmas in Mumbai

Mumbai, Dec 25 : With the chimes of church bells, moving midnight mass, earnest prayers and warm greetings early Wednesday, Mumbai celebrated Christmas.

Archbishop of Mumbai, Cardinal Oswald Gracias led the midnight mass at the Holy Name Cathedral till past 2 a.m. Wednesday as early morning winter chill started settling over city.

The midnight mass was preceded by singing of Christmas carols and hymns at all the churches in the city with the services attended by the 1.20 million-strong Christian community, dressed in their festive best.

At some of the churches, foreigners living and working in the city as well as tourists joined in the midnight mass and heralded the Christmas celebrations away from their homes.

Wednesday morning, the festivities started with special parties, eating cakes and cookies, exchange of greetings and gifts, visiting friends, relatives or hosting them at homes decorated with Christmas trees, fairy lights and bright stars.

The Christmas celebrations were seen in community pockets of Colaba, Byculla, Mazagaon, Mahim, Bandra, Malad, Kandivli and Borivli where the entire localities were lit up with stars and lanterns shining bright on rooftops or lighting up homes.

Malls and multiplexes, restaurants and resorts in and around the city have arranged special Christmas programmes, promotional offers and discounts to lure the festival crowds.

Elsewhere in the state, Christmas was celebrated in places like Thane, coastal Konkan region, Nashik, Pune which have a significant Christian population.

Mumbai police are on vigil since Tuesday to ensure an incident-free Christmas, the last major festival of the current calendar year.

--IANS (Posted on 25-12-2013)

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