Gift shops and bakeries in Dehradun are decked up with goodies ahead of the Christmas celebrations and churches are being decorated with lights, but local residents and others returning from other states for the festival will have to celebrate the occasion at their homes in view of the pandemic.
On the fourth and last advent Sunday before Christmas, in place of live performance of Christmas Drama and ‘sing song service’, a pre-recorded performance of both were streamed on Facebook and YouTube as the Central Methodist Church at Neshvilla Road has restricted devotees’ entry.
There will be no midnight community worship (mass prayer) on Christmas day. A link will be shared with devotees and church members who wish to join the prayer online. Christmas worship on December 25 will also be virtual.
The pandemic has made Christmas celebrations in Dehradun a low-key affair. As per tradition, the celebrations at Central Methodist Church would start with first advent Sunday. Thereafter, two groups of carolers would visit over 500 members of the church in Dehradun city. And a community lunch would also be held. Church members would observe .
“There are no carol service and community lunch. Pre-recorded carol service will be shown online from Monday evening. The programmes usually held on four advent Sundays remained cancelled. It has been done to avoid gathering in the church in view of the pandemic. Devotees will not be allowed inside the church for prayer on Christmas. In place of midnight community worship, there will be online night prayers,” said Rev. Dinesh Prasad, Pastor in-charge, Central Methodist Church, Dehradun.
Church members have been informed that gifts and ration will be collected from their homes and distributed at an orphanage. Rev. Prasad added that the church will remain closed for the public on New Year’s day too.
“Festivals come every year but life comes once,” said the pastor.
Similar restrictions are in place at St Francis Church on Convent Road. Carol singing and cultural programmes for children like the Christmas tree function and midnight mass have been cancelled.
Parish Priest Faustin John Pinto said that instead of midnight mass, there will be a prayer service on December 24 evening at 6 pm and 8 pm. Church authorities are expecting a low turnout in the prayer service.