Christmas festivities begin in Goa


Goa, along with the rest of the country and the world, has begun celebrating Christmas with joy and gaiety, thus commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, the ‘messenger of peace and love’.
The Christmas celebrations began with ringing of bells in the churches and chapels around Goa during the midnight masses, announcing the happy moment when the ‘Messiah of Mercy’ arrived on this earth in the holy city of Bethlehem. A large number of devotees of the Christ, who gathered for midnight masses prayed and celebrated the birth of Jesus. The masses were accompanied by tolling of bells and lighting of candles.
On the eve of Christmas, children were seen going around singing carols and waiting for Christmas father to get them gifts. Live cribs with carol singing also made rounds in Goan towns and villages, with religious and cultural programmes being held at different parishes in the state.
The Catholic families prepared their Christmas trees decorated with many items including socks, candles, stars, bells, gifts and a number of small figures of animals and birds. Cribs were also made from clay statues as well as artefacts made up of millet grass, box board and hay, which formed cherished part of the Christmas celebration in every Catholic family.
Later in the night, a number of cultural events and social gatherings were held with exchange of Christmas wishes and gifts. Fireworks, dance, music, and elaborate feasts with luxurious dishes formed an important and inevitable part of the social gatherings linked to Christmas, which continued till early hours. Dressed in best of their attire, the people spilled onto the roads   and beaches celebrating Christmas. The Governor, Mr B V Wanchoo, the  Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar, the
Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Archbishop-Patriarch, Filipe Neri Ferrão and political parties  have greeted the people of Goa on the occasion of Christmas.
Extending his message on the occasion of the festival, the Governor has said, “On this very special day, we celebrate the birthday of Lord Jesus Christ, whose eternal and most valuable message of love, peace, sacrifice, tolerance and brotherhood continues to influence and inspire the entire humanity. 
“Our country is a proud inheritor of a secular society, where people belonging to different faiths have traditionally lived in harmony, amity, social solidarity and unity,” Mr Wanchoo added, pointing out that the celebration of religious and spiritual occasions like Christmas have great relevance and importance in maintaining brotherhood and unity among the brethren of our country. 
“Let us, therefore, on the auspicious eve of Christmas, take a vow to promote and practise the valuable message given to us by Lord Jesus Christ, which will make the human society happier and more peaceful to live in,” he maintained, wishing that may the celebrations of Christmas this year bring renewed joy, lasting peace and greater prosperity to one and all.
The Chief Minister, in his message extended to the people of Goa on the occasion of Christmas, popularly known as ‘Natal’, said the festival of Christmas is a symbol of love and compassion, and is celebrated in many parts of the world with joy and enthusiasm.
“Let us, on this occasion, dedicate ourselves to strengthen the unity and promote national integration and take Goa to new heights of progress and prosperity,” he added.
Archbishop-Patriarch Filipe Neri Ferrão’s Christmas message states, “I bring you good news of great joy … for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, was the angel’s message to shepherds on the Holy Night when the son of God became man. This is the message, which is heard at every Christmas celebration in our churches, drawing us into the atmosphere of that night.”
“In the child in a manger we contemplate the creator of the universe reduced to the helplessness of an infant,” the message reads, adding, “He becomes our companion in the precarious path of history and we only need to take his hand stretched out to us.”
The Archbishop-Patriarch further states, “It is a hand that takes nothing from us, only gives.” “I wish the Christian community and the society, at large, all the blessings of this night and season; and pray that we may be inspired to bear witness to truth, to love, to peace; values for which Christ was born, lived and died.”
The president of the state Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr Vinay Tendulkar, the president of the Goa pradesh Congress committee, Mr Subhash Shirodkar and the state president of the Nationalist Congress Party, Mr Surendra Sirsat  have also wished the people of Goa a Merry Christmas, wishing that the festival may bring joy and happiness to everyone in the state. [NT]