Mumbai: With the Maharashtra government asking churches to permit devotees only uptil 50 per cent of their capacity for the midnight mass on the occasion of Christmas, some people flocked at a Mumbai church gate and offered prayers from the gate.
With their hands folded, some people stood at the gate of St. Michael's Church in Mahim, Mumbai and hummed small prayers. In the spirit of celebrating Christmas, few people arrived at the church with family and glazed at the illuminated church building.
The church was lit up with vibrant led lights with colours frequently changing from blue to green, pink and yellow.
The restrictions on the gathering in churches came in view of rising Omicron cases in the state.
The Maharashtra government in its new COVID-19 guidelines on Friday prohibited gathering of more than five persons in public places from 9 pm-6 am, among other such measures, applicable from the intervening night of December 24-25.
Maharashtra government also released Christmas specific guidelines to be observed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"People will be allowed to attend church up to 50 per cent of the available seating capacity in the church for Christmas. Special care should be taken to ensure that the church is not crowded in any way and that social distancing is maintained and that masks and sanitizers are used. Disinfection should also be arranged in the church," read the order.
"Scenes from the life of the Lord Jesus, a Christmas tree or other objects are kept in the church on Christmas day. Appropriate measures should be taken to follow the rules of Social Distancing and Hygiene in that place," it added.
Guidelines also include that no shops or stalls should be set up outside / around the church, avoid large gatherings or crowds in public places or on the streets and fireworks should not be set off, strict adherence to rules and regulations regarding noise pollution.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra has reported over 100 cases of Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa.
According to Union Health Ministry, India has reported over 350 cases of the new variant.
ALSO READPune church celebrates Christmas following COVID-19 protocols for 'good health of society'
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)