Carols & lights & the Yuletide spirit

SHILLONG/TURA/NONGPOH: ‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly’ — the famous Christmas carol composed in 1881 is spreading across homes as Meghalaya prepares to celebrate Christmas.
The illuminated roads in Shillong are filled with revellers of all age groups.
Police Bazar, the heart of the city, was abuzz with youngsters flaunting Santa caps and holding LED balloon, a new merchandise in the market this year, even at 10pm.
The sound of carols filled the festive air as several groups of faithful came out singing and dancing.
Special services in different churches have also been planned.
The road leading to Laitumkhrah junction from the cathedral has also been lit up.
A carol was also taken out in Laban area on Sunday evening. Local MLA Sanbor Shullai also participated in it. There was heavy rush at cake shops too and people waited in long queues to take the best pick.
In Tura, homes have been whitewashed and trees decked with colourful lights. Localities are preparing for a night of community dancing and festivity even as last-minute shopping for clothes and shoes continue with families thronging the Tura market for the best bargain.
Thousands of people will be out on the streets well past midnight and into the early hours of the morning to celebrate Christmas.
But before all of that is the special service across churches to welcome the birth of the saviour Lord Jesus Christ.
Bells will chime at midnight to announce the birth of the Lord and lakhs of Christians will offer prayers of thanksgiving.
The message of the Catholic Church in Garo Hills is about ‘Joy, Peace and Love’.
“God sent his only son to this world to bring peace and love. He gave the greatest gift of all- love and forgiveness,” said Rev. Fr. Mukhim while speaking on the importance of Christmas.
He also mentioned that Christmas is a time of giving and there is always joy in doing so and urged upon devotees to do their bit for the less fortunate.
The message of Christmas at the Tura Baptist Church, the biggest and oldest church in town, is that ‘There is Hope in Christ’.
On Christmas Eve a special children’s programme followed by a Christmas concert will begin the celebrations at Tura Baptist Church before the midnight service where a record number of devotees are expected to attend.
Special bamboo structures have been constructed in open fields to accommodate large number of revellers who will dance the night away in various localities.
Umsning carol
To ignite the spirit of joy and peace among all the Christian faithful to celebrate the festive occasion of Christmas, the United Christian Umsning Area once again came up with a joint Christmas carol in which different churches participated. It ended with a Christmas Musical evening. The joint Christmas carol was held at Umsning playground.
The 6th joint carol event witnessed the participation of several hundred Christian faithful who lit up the event with songs. Gifts were also distributed.
Eddie G Kharbani, Chairman of the United Christian Umsning Area, told reporters that the Christmas carol is an initiative to unite all Christian faithful from different churches to celebrate the birthday of the Holy Lord Jesus Christ in the spirit of joy and harmony.
“The message of Christmas should reach everyone’s heart that Jesus Christ had come to the world to save us from sin, Lord had been born in humanity which spread the message of love, care and blessing to one and all and we must celebrate Christmas in the spirit of joy”, Kharbani added.
The celebration was enlivened by the Christmas Musical Evening which saw different musical bands from Jowai, Shillong and Umsning participate.

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