Thousands of Christians in India's northeast joined a midnight mass in churches across the region to pray for peace and well being of the human race.
With church bells echoing across the hills and dales of the region, and throngs of people packing churches to join in the festive prayer and song in celebration of Jesus' birth, the northeast was drowned in yuletide passion.
"Christmas is the day when people tend to forgive and forget everything and simply rejoice. This is also the day when people pray for peace and prosperity of the state, the nation, and for the entire human race at large," Thomas Menamparampil, Archbishop of Guwahati, told IANS.
Worshippers across the region lit candles, sang carols and organised festive feasts to celebrate Christmas. "We organised a small Christmas breakfast for the less fortunate, the homeless, distressed and lonely, for whom the festive season would otherwise be miserable," said Rumi Baruah, a college teacher in Guwahati.
Christmas across the seven northeastern states has always been different from the rest of the country with people from all faiths joining the celebrations, thereby strengthening the bond of mutual respect.
The states of Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland are predominantly Christian.
Christians accounts for about 15 per cent of the 40 million people in the northeast.
"We always make it a point to visit our Christian friends on Christmas day. We also join them in the festivities," said Harish Bhargav, a businessman in Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland.
Christmas was also celebrated with gusto at camps of separatist guerrilla groups in the region - the northeast is home to 30-odd rebel armies. "We prayed for peace. Our cadres had a hearty Christmas eve dinner and they all were in very jubilant mood," a senior leader of a Naga separatist group said.
Almost all churches in the region held special peace prayers with the northeast ravaged by decades of violent insurgency.
"People cannot rejoice unless there is peace. We hope our prayers are answered. We want an end to all forms of bloodshed and killings," Reverend N Pau, a Baptist church leader in Guwahati, said.