Xmas in Mumbai: Christmas celebrations at home; few churches cancel mass
BL Soni

Following restrictions imposed by the Maharashtra state government allowing 50 people for Christmas Mass on December 24 and 25 instead of the earlier 200 people, few churches cancelled offline mass services and streamed only online masses for all. Unlike every year, members of the Christian community said they will celebrate the Christmas festival only with close family members, with no outdoor carol singing, dinners, parties or house visits in order to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 infection.

While some churches celebrated Christmas night vigil mass services on December 24 with a limited attendance strictly based on preregistration, few others cancelled offline mass services. Parishioners of St Michael's Church, Mahim were informed by the parish priest Fr Lancy Pinto, "As per government general regulations, the upper limit for the Christmas Mass is only 50 persons. In lieu of this, we at St. Michael's Mahim have decided that all masses scheduled for December 24 and 25 in our church stand cancelled. The Christmas Vigil Mass on December 24 at 9 pm and the Christmas Day Mass on December 25 at 8.30 am will be streamed online."

Members of the Christian community said the Covid-19 pandemic has restricted celebration of Christmas festival. Angelina Saldanha, a youth leader from Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Orlem, Malad west said, "Every year we have outdoor carol singing where we visit homes in respective zones with a carol singing group. But this year, we could not do any group activities due to Covid-19 risks."

Christmas celebration this year is indoors only with few very close family and friends, said Mathias Coelho, a resident of Bandra. Coelho said, "My daughter, son-in-law, and grandson are abroad but, we cannot visit each other for Christmas due to the pandemic. Travel restrictions and risk of spread of the coronavirus have compelled us to celebrate Christmas only with two to three close folks."

Youngsters of the Christian community said they will miss out on Crib hopping, outdoor Christmas tree decor, partying, dining out, and house visits to friends. Joshua Mendonca, a 24-year-old designer said, "We had to cancel our plans of Crib hopping in Mumbai post the Christmas midnight mass because the state has imposed a night curfew from 11 pm to 6 am till January 5, 2021."

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