Bengaluru, Dec 25 (IANS) For the first time in years, Christmas celebration was subdued in Bengaluru on Friday due to Covid-induced curbs on large congregation in churches and public places to contain the virus spread.
Though the festival was celebrated with gaiety and religious fervour, strict guidelines to maintain physical distancing and wearing masks dampened the spirit of festivity.
"The sudden withdrawal of night curfew was a great relief and in response to our prayers to Jesus, as we did not want to miss the mass in our church on Christmas eve and spend more time in the night with families and friends," Samuel David, a Catholic devotee, told IANS here.
While the Karnataka government withdrew the 9-day night curfew hours before enforcing it across the state on Thursday, the midnight mass was held from 7-8 p.m. in churches and chapels across the city under Covid guidelines, restricting the gathering to 50 per cent of their capacity.
"Even before the state government announced on Wednesday that curfew would be enforced from Thursday night after 11 p.m., Archbishop Peter Machado advanced the midnight mass to 7 p.m., with advice to bishops to restrict the gathering in all the 150 Catholic churches and webcast the event live for others to attend online from their home," David said.
Machado conducted the Kannada mass at the Francis Xavier Cathedral near Coles Park in the city centre.
The Christmas service at Bethel AG Church international worship centre was conducted by pastor in-charge Reverend V. Johnson earlier in the day for those seated on 2-wheelers and 4-wheelers parked in an open ground, as worship-on-wheels (WoW).
"The WoW service was arranged for the safety of the devotees. Those who could not attend the church service, participated online from their home," said pastor Danny Kuruvilla.
The Bethel Church has been conducting the Sunday service since June in a contactless, drive-in format in its 3-acre property - Temple of God, adjacent to its building in the city's norther suburb due to the pandemic.
St. Mark's Cathedral in downtown conducted prayers and mass service in the morning and evening, with singling of carols and hymns.
All Saints Church and Wesley English Church, however, cancelled the midnight mass and held service in the day and later in the evening.
Infant Jesus Church and St Andrew's Church in the city held the mass on Thursday evening and service on Friday morning.
"We kept the celebration low-key this year as the world is going through harrowing times due to the pandemic, which claiming thousands of lives," said a church manager.
he Holy Trinity Church streamed the service live to restrict the congregation to 100 people as per the guidelines.
"We have already advised senior citizens and elders to attend the service from their home as per the guidelines," added the manager.
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