Christmas 2020: COVID-19 crisis steals sheen of Xmas celebrations in Pune
Pune: Unlike every year, Christmas this year remained a low-key affair in Pune due to the prevailing coronavirus outbreak.
In Pune, devotees thronged many churches and attended mass prayers wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Special prayers were held at the brightly decorated churches to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, in observance to the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) laid down by the administration.
Amid the restrictions, the churches felt the joy and enthusiasm of the festival in the community. Bishop of Pune, Thomas Dabre said, “We feel Christmas is a spiritual union with Jesus Christ. Celebrations are not so important without spiritual convenience with the Lord. It is a spiritual celebration of union with Jesus Christ, this is the reason why we celebrate Xmas with great zeal.”
“We have followed all COVID-19 rules and strictly restricted people to enter the premises of church. Spirituality is not only communal with God but it is also communal with fellow humans so the festival for us is to love humans,” he added.
Just as the infection took away shine from maximum festivals this year, Christmas was a restricted affair. Police Inspector Ashok Kadam of Lashkar Police Station said, “MG Road is one of the hotspots in the city for Christmas. Every year thousands of people throng to celebrate the festival in a big way but this year it is different. Many have already celebrated the festival at home amid coronavirus scare. We have asked people to follow all COVID-19 protocols strictly during the festivities.”
“Already night curfew is imposed in the city between 11 pm to 6 am. Police will take stringent action if anybody is found violating the law,” he added. The state government also had urged people to celebrate the Christmas festival in low-grandeur. The state government also had declared the guidelines to celebrate the big festival.
Meanwhile, followers expressed joy over the government’s decision to permit them for the mass prayer. Rommel Joseph Salve, one of the devotees said, “Christmas was different for us. This year we are restricting the number of guests. The churches are opened after a huge gap and it’s a pure bliss visiting here. We never thought that we will celebrate the big festival like this. We have cooperated with the authorities and making sure everyone follows COVID-19 protocols.”
Despite COVID-19, the festive spirit gripped all at home with Christmas decorations and lights. Despite the social distance out of home, one has got closer this year with family members while watching Xmas films, singing Christmas carols together at home and baking cakes.