Goa celebrates X’mas with joy and fervour

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Assistant parish priest Fr Camilo Dias addressing a congregation at Christmas mass in St Andrew’s Church in Vasco on Thursday evening. Parist priest Fr Gabriel Coutinho and assistant parish priest Fr Jeronimo Afonso are also seen.

Panaji: Unfazed by the ongoing corona pandemic, Goans celebrated Christmas with joy and fervour along with rest of the world, with midnight masses taking place in most of the churches and chapels around the state. The celebrations were held by following the pandemic-related restrictions.

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrão have extended greetings and warm wishes to the people of Goa on the occasion of Christmas.

Christmas was ushered in with the midnight masses accompanied by pealing of the church bells and eye-pleasing fireworks, heralding the birth of Jesus Christ. The religious Yuletide activities began across the state with church services, most of which began at 11 pm, with the ringing of church bells.

This year, however, the chapels and churches restricted the number of devotees attending the masses. Many of the parishes had asked the parishioners to inform about their presence for the mass, and reserve their place for the same.

The number of masses was increased by the chapels and churches, this year, with up to 200 devotees allowed to attend each mass. Many of these Catholic religious houses also constructed pandals outside their premises to facilitate social distancing.

The outdoor services with night vigil followed by Eucharistic celebrations were observed in many places, as also carols were sung by various groups providing musical backdrop to the celebrations.

Meanwhile, cribs depicting scenes of the birth of Lord Jesus have been put up at Christian homes, churches, chapels and different strategic locations. Catholic residences as well as prayer houses have also been tastefully decorated with brightly-lit stars as well as ‘lampions’ and array of lights.

A large number of Goans residing outside Goa have come down to the state to celebrate the festival with their families.

This year, however, the eve of Christmas witnessed limited number of Santa Clauses moving around the cities and towns and distributing gifts to kids, due to the ongoing corona pandemic.

The dance programmes, which used to be held after the midnight mass were cancelled at various places including clubs and hotels. Nevertheless, large numbers of tourists were seen moving around the state long after midnight.

Earlier in the evening, markets around the state were seen packed with crowds for the last-minute Christmas purchases.

In his message, the Governor said, “Christmas is a joyous festival, as it heralds the day on which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth as a saviour to redeem mankind from sins. As the Bible says, ‘God so loved this world that he gave us his only begotten son’. The life of Jesus Christ teaches us that He preached the eternal values of peace, love, compassion, brotherhood and harmony. He gave up his own self for the greater good of mankind through his act of crucification. His life and teachings will forever serve as a balm in this troubled world.”

“On this festive occasion to commemorate the birth of Son of God, let us dedicate ourselves to live in peace and harmony and work for greater glory and progress of the nation,” the Governor said.

In his message, the Chief Minister said, “Christmas signifies a time of love, joy and peace. It is a festival which celebrates the birth of Lord Jesus Christ and reminds us to be compassionate towards one another.”

“May the joys of the season feel our heart with goodwill and cheer. May Lord Jesus grant us the strength to overcome our sorrows and difficulties faced during the time of pandemic. Let us consolidate the bond of unity and fraternity,” he said.

The Archbishop, in his message said, “Christmas this year comes under the most unprecedented circumstances: the COVID-19 pandemic is holding sway over our lives, almost like a cloud of darkness that threatens to overcome the light. Christmas, however, has the power to overcome all shades of darkness. It will always remain a joyful event, bringing, as a famous Carol says, ‘Joy to the world!’ It is in this joy that I send Christmas greetings to our faithful and to the people of Goa in general, invoking on them blessings of the peace, the joy and the love that Jesus Christ brought to this world two thousand years ago.”

“While commemorating His birth once again, I pray that He, the Babe of Bethlehem and the Prince of Peace, may help us all to promote understanding and to sustain our efforts to build peace, trust and reconciliation: values for which Christ was born, lived and died,” the Archbishop said.

Leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat greeted Goans on the occasion of Christmas.

In his message, Kamat said, “Let us all celebrate this Christmas with self care and caring others. Let us all be humble and kind and work to preserve the secular fabric of Goa.” “Let us all pray to Lord Jesus to bless our tiny state of Goa with peace at all times and encourage us all to preserve the identity of Goa,” he said.