Christmas was celebrated on Sunday across northeast India with special prayers, hymns, and masses in churches, besides the traditional mass community feasts and delicious food.
Over 5.3 million Christians live in Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur while there are a significant number of Christians in the other northeastern states — Tripura, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh.
The annual carnival began from Saturday night with church services and fellowships where the congregation sang Christmas carols — both western and local songs, composed by the local spiritualists and composers.
“The Christmas eve celebrations since Saturday night were completely peaceful and incident free. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in Mizoram,” a police official in capital Aizawl said.
He said: “Adequate security arrangements have been made in Aizawl, its outskirts and other parts of the state to hold the Christmas festivity peacefully.”
The traditional festive spirit was evident everywhere at the capital town and other places of Mizoram as the colourful decorations and illuminations were made by the revellers.
Worship services marked the Christmas and community feasts would be held on Sunday and Monday in most of the villages and localities of the urban areas of the state.
The festive spirit has gripped the plains, hills and valleys of Christians dominated Nagaland as Christmas celebrations started at the stroke of midnight when church bells rang and midnight mass was held.
Churches, private and government buildings, schools, markets and homes have been decked up and illuminated in Kohima, Dimapur, Mokokchung and several other towns and villages of predominantly Christian state.
People are also conveying greetings and good wishes to one another as Christmas is a time for goodwill, faith and fun.
Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang appealed to the people to forgive and learn from the wrongs of the past, and to steer the destiny of the Naga people to a better future.
Despite demonitisation of high value currency notes, people have been thronging markets for the last few days, while residents staying elsewhere and students pursuing academic careers in other states have returned to their hearths and homes to join the festivities.
In Meghalaya, besides decoration of churches, homes and streets have put up Christmas trees with beautiful bells and lights while the streets have been illuminated as a major part of Christmas celebrations.
Right from the early morning, people are visiting Police Bazar and the local markets in capital Shillong to buy goodies and other attractive items tghat would enable them to rejoice the occasion.
Various state governments in the region have announced holidays for several days to enable the people to join Christmas celebrations.
Governors and chief ministers of the northeastern states have wished the people on the occasion.
Churches in Mizoram, Nagaland and Meghalaya play a very significant role in the life and culture of the societies in northeastern states.
“Christianity is the harbinger of modernity as well as women’s liberation in Mizoram. The Christian missionaries, therefore, are regarded as a symbol of modernisation, leading to gradual changes in the conservative attitude of men towards women,” a Church head, Zosangliana Colney, told reporters in Aizawl.
“In a reciprocal gesture, Tripura government has been supplying 10 MW electricity to Mizoram to help the state to meet their additional power requirements on the occasion of the Christmas,” the Tripura State Electricity Corporation general manager told IANS.
He said during the Durga Puja, Mizoram and Meghalaya provided electricity to Tripura to meet its additional requirement of power.
Non-Christians are also participating in the celebrations and feasts organised by various Christian organisations.