Traditional fervour and piety marked Christmas celebrations rejoicing the birth of Jesus Christ in Tamil Nadu on Saturday with a special prayer on the lips of many devotees wishing an early end to the pandemic and good times ahead for the people.
Chennai's landmark churches including the Santhome Church or Santhome Basilica raised on the mortal remains of one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, held special Holy Mass in English and Tamil, Annai Velankanni or Lady of Health Church and the St Thomas Mount National Shrine, which also held special mass on the occasion, received the devout with giant cribs.
"I am happy that I was able to visit church this time due to the State government relaxing the lockdown restrictions. More than anything else, we prayed for the health of the people, quick recovery from Coronavirus and prayed that the pandemic would end soon," said Zakarias Joseph, who visited the Annai Velankanni Church.
Echoing a similar sentiment, Anna Shanthi said she couldn't step out of her house during this time last year as she and her family were quarantined. "Things seem to be better this time and I am able to visit the Santhome Church. I hope 2022 will usher in a coronavirus-free life for everyone," she added. As the church bells rang, people gathered for the midnight services in which Bishops and priests conducted the special Christmas masses and gave out the message. "We celebrated Christmas by sharing cakes and biryani with our relatives and friends," said A Gerald.
Meanwhile, thousands of pilgrims from various parts of the country participated in special prayers at Vailankanni church in Nagapattinam district in connection with Christmas. On Christmas Eve, when the clock struck 12 at night, priests of the Church led by the Rector Irudhayaraj came in procession to announce the birth of Jesus. Little children carried candles and the Holy Bible in procession.
After offering prayers in English and Tamil, the Parish Priest Arputharaj showed the idol of Infant Jesus marking the birth of Jesus. The church has been decorated with multi-colour papers and illuminated. Similarly, hundreds of devotees participated in special prayers at the New Jerusalem Church at Tarangambadi in Nagapattinam district, the oldest Protestant church in Asia. The church was built by Ziegenbalg in the year 1718 AD and is in use till date.
-With PTI Input