STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU/Srinagar: Christmas was celebrated in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday with religious fervour as devotees held special prayers for peace and prosperity in the union territory.However, the celebrations were a low-key affair due to the coronavirus-related restrictions.In Jammu, the main function was held at St Mary’s Garrison Church, Gandhi Nagar where devotees held special prayers and celebrated birthday of Jesus Christ. The lit candles and prayed for peace and prosperity.The biggest gathering in the Valley was held at Holy Family Catholic Church at Moulana Azad Road in the heart of the city, where members of the Christian community, including women and children, assembled to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ and held special prayers.The church, decorated with colourful buntings and balloons, wore a festive look.
Larkipora: Sepoy Gurvinder Singh of the Army’s 19 Rashtriya Rifles was given a new mission in Kashmir on Friday — ‘Mission Smile’.His crisp olive greens gave way to fluffy red costume, assault rifle which always slings on shoulders was replaced by goodie bags and voila! “Fauji” Santa was ready to welcome kids from the valley for a day filled with fun with endless supplies of goodies, toffees, chocolates and some tips on their future and career.The Rashtriya Rifles encampment at Larkipora, 65 km from Srinagar, was buzzing with activities on Christmas with thumping of boots replaced by giggles of children from neighbouring localities of Wessu, Pethdialgam, Brenty, Kokernag, Vailu and Gadol who were invited here by the Commanding Officer as a gesture to connect with locales. “We are working under the guidance of GOC of Victor Force and connecting with locals. The idea is to see the kids smile and that’s what we are doing,” said Col Dharmendra Yadav, commanding officer of the 19 Rashtriya Rifles of the Army’s Victor Force which looks after the militancy-hit areas of south Kashmir. He said the unit deployed its Sepoy to become Santa and distribute small gifts to the kids and school-going children who were also counselled for career development. Addressing the children, Major Rahul Jaeenger asked the kids to clear their doubts and focus on their dreams. “Every child has some speciality which needs to be toned up,” he told PTI. Lt Col Manpreet Singh feels that connecting with the kids was nice and it’s better to catch them young and showcase the world to them. Singh distributed all the gifts while Subedar Harkeerat Singh, a religious teacher, conveyed the importance of Christmas to the children.
However, the celebrations were subdued due to the coronavirus pandemic.Among the believers were a few tourists who joined the locals on the auspicious day and prayed for peace and prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir and the world over.The Christmas celebrations this year were held in compliance to COVID-19 protocols as devotees wore masks and maintained social distancing and followed other standard operating procedures (SOPs).
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