BHOPAL: The birth of Jesus Christ would be celebrated in the city this year sans carol singing, midnight masses, outdoor celebrations and community feasts due to the Covid pandemic. And yes, Santa Claus would be a major missing too.
Groups of carol singers won’t go roundhouse, instead, carol singing will be held for only half-an-hour at churches. The timing of the midnight prayer has been changed; will start from 7 pm and end at 10 pm. On Christmas, a special prayer will be held from 8am-9am.
PRO of Bhopal Archdiocese, Fr Maria Stephen, told Free Press that there will be no outdoor celebrations and get-togethers this year. Most of the people would celebrate the festival at their homes. “We will be focused more on prayers than on celebrations,” he said.
“There is the season of Advent before the Christmas during which Jesus, who loves all of us unconditionally, comes in human form and blesses us. Celebrations begin four weeks before the festival and we pray on different themes on Sunday of each week. The theme of the first week is hope, followed by peace, joy and celebration,” he said. But this year, all this was subdued.
In keeping with the Covid-19 norms, the children and the elderly will not visit churches for the midnight mass. The rest of the people can attend adhering to corona-protection norms. “We are providing an online mass prayer facility for the devotees who can’t visit churches,” he said.
Most of the churches in the city are spacious and will not be crowded if children and old people keep away. There are 17 churches in the city with a seating capacity of around 300 each. The prayer will be held in two phases with 150 people taking part in each phase, he says.
“We will follow all the corona-protection norms mandated by the government. We can’t compromise because corona is an invisible enemy,” Fr Stephen said.
Father Joseph PP of the Barkheda Church said that there would be no fanfare this year on Christmas. “All the celebrations will be held during the day and we will wind up the prayers on the eve of the festival before 10 pm,” he said. There would be no midnight feast.
According to Fr Silberious of the Asha Niketan Church, Arera colony, the number of attendees of the midnight mass would be limited to 50 per cent of the capacity of the church. All of them would be subjected to thermal screening and masks would be compulsory.