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How India Celebrates Christmas With Pomp After Two Years of COVID-19

© AP Photo / Rafiq MaqboolPeople shop for Christmas souvenirs from roadside vendors in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022.
People shop for Christmas souvenirs from roadside vendors in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. - Sputnik India, 1920, 24.12.2022
Indians celebrated almost all major festivals this year with much fervor given that the pandemic in the country has subdued.
The last two weeks of December mark another season of festivities in India as people celebrate Christmas and New Year with much zeal and enthusiasm.
The celebrations are especially special this year after two years of COVID outbreak and various precautionary protocols.
However, the COVID situation in the country has remained under control since the government stepped up its mass vaccination program in January 2021, despite the virus wreaking havoc and claiming thousands of lives in the country during the second wave in March to June 2021.
Despite being a Christian festival, a large number of people from different religious faiths celebrate Christmas. On this occasion, various programs are set to be organized in schools, communities and other places. The preparations start a couple of days ahead of this festival.
On Christmas, churches in India have been decorated with poinsettia flowers, candles, stars made of glittering papers and other decorative items. Christians attend Midnight Mass with family and friends as part of the tradition, enjoying a feast of different delicacies (often biryanis, a dish made with rice and meat), and exchanging gifts.

Markets Decked Up With Festive Cheer

With people all set to celebrate the occasion this year with much pomp, markets are also decked up adding to the festive mood all around.
As Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, brings cheer for the jewelers, sweet shop owners, and garment shop owners, Christmas brings a big cheer for the bakers, gift shop owners and others.

Talking to Sputnik, Samarth Mishra, owner of The Cake Masters, said: “This year we have received a good number of orders as compared to the previous two years. There is a rise of 30-40 percent in orders.”

He, however, said that it will still take time to reach the pre-COVID level.
Mishra also said that they are likely to see more improvement in time to come as the pandemic situation is under control and businesses started returning back to normal.
However, he also stated that although a fresh outbreak of the virus in China is a concern, the swift response by the government should help keep the situation under control.
Om Tripathi, owner of Glitterz Gift Shoppe, also said that there is less fear among the public and things have returned to normalcy.
“With protocols in place, almost everything was shut down when the virus was at its peak. The movement of people was restricted so the tradition of exchanging gifts was not being followed. However, people will now be visiting their relatives and friends so they are buying gifts. This is a positive sign and I think every gift shop owner is experiencing the difference.”
Apart from bakers and gift shop owners, garment shop owners are also excited about Christmas and New Year.
Parvesh Trivedi, owner of Harry Collection, told Sputnik that he expects sales to pick up during Christmas and New Year as the winters will get chilly in the time to come.
“Earlier, people used to gift some decorative items, cakes, cookies or other things for Christmas. Now they are also showing interest in buying clothes for their loved ones,” he said.
Trivedi further stated that people tend to buy trendy jackets, jeans, or warm t-shirts as gifts because they think that they will be useful during the winter season.

Churches Ready for Christmas Prayers

Not only the markets, but also the churches are glittering with decorations to welcome people during Christmas.
Holy Mass is organized in Christian churches where parish members and their families will participate.

Avinash Kumar, pastor of Jeevan Jyoti Prarthna Bhavan Church in Ghaziabad, told Sputnik: “Everyone is excited this year as Christmas has been celebrated with much zeal after a gap of almost two years. Children had decorated the Church. We sang carols and prayed to God for the welfare of the world.”

He, however, expressed concern over the COVID outbreak in China as he said that the virus has been subdued but it has not gone and every one of us has to remain cautious.
“We have followed social distancing during Holy Mass and also urged people to wear masks while attending the Christmas celebrations,” Kumar added.

Echoing the views of Kumar, the father of another church in Delhi told Sputnik that it is the duty of every individual to follow the precautions stated by the government.

“Two years have been extremely difficult and painful as we have seen our near and dear ones losing battle to the deadly virus. We will pray to God to keep all the humans safe,” the priest stated.