Church bells echoed through the hills and dales in India's northeast as hundreds of thousands of Christians attended midnight mass across the region to pray for peace and well-being in the world.
The northeast was drowned in yuletide passion as throngs of people packed churches to join in festive prayer and song in celebration of Jesus' birth.
"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," W Wallang, a Baptist church pastor in Assam's main city of Guwahati, said.
Worshippers across the region lit candles, sang carols and organised 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 Asangla Ao, a housewife in Dimapur, Nagaland's commercial hub.
Christmas across the seven northeastern states of about 40 million people 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.
"We always make it a point to visit our Christian friends on Christmas day. We also join them in the festivities," said Rajesh Bora, a doctor in Meghalaya capital Shillong.
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 the 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," T Lotha, a Baptist church leader in Nagaland's capital Kohima, said.