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Fervour marks Christmas in Delhi

The markets and shopping malls in the capital are flooded with Santa Clauses of all shapes and sizes.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2006 20:45 IST

With a bright sun keeping the winter chill at bay, Christians in Delhi on Monday celebrated Christmas with fervour and spirit, exchanging greetings and gifts with friends and relatives.

Christians, who consist around three per cent of India's population, decorated their homes with Christmas trees, lights and gifts to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

"Christmas marks the birth of Jesus and when he was born the angels cried out 'peace and harmony for all', and so the festival of Christmas is celebrated by all," said Father Victor Nazareth of New Life Church in central Delhi, where hundreds gathered for special mass.

The markets and shopping malls in the capital are flooded with Santa Clauses of all shapes and sizes as well as at red lights.

Christmas is usually associated with Santa Claus, a fictitious character but a favourite with everyone because he comes with a bag full of goodies.

The Delhi branch of HelpAge India showed this year that Santa does exist by giving away 500 sleeping bags to the homeless in Delhi's Chandni Chowk area.

"These homeless people should also realise that Santa Claus gives gifts to everyone. So we thought of doing this in Delhi. Our other centres all over India are also giving away similar gifts to the poor and needy," said Mathew Cherian, chief executive, HelpAge India.

Markets have been flooded with hi-tech Christmas trees embellished with bells, peppermint sticks, lights and stars, and if that's not all, the trees even start singing programmed carols at the press of a button.

Also on sale are talking Santa Clauses that even sing popular Bollywood numbers.

While devout have been praying at most churches, it is also time to party with the New Year round the corner.

ITC Maurya Sheraton, one of the capital's renowned five star hotels, has this year made a Christmas tree - Tree of Light - designed on Braille paper and embellished with leather cut-outs of mythological figures.

"This year I have arranged a bonfire at home and invited all our friends, and we are going to have a gala time," said Diljeet Titus, of Titus and Co, a Delhi-based corporate law firm.

"Commercialisation of this popular festival has increased tremendously over the years. Though there is nothing wrong in that, but then people tend to forget the spirituality and little joys that are associated with this festival," said Nazareth.

"I love it during Christmas. The festival is for all and I enjoy the spirit of the festivities. This year I am going to a friend's party to have fun," said Yusuf Zaman, a public relations professional.

First Published: Dec 25, 2006 05:45 IST