The peel of the midnight bells in churches and the carols reverberating the praise of Lord Jesus ushered in the Christmas festivities in Goa amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Christmas celebration in the state, where nearly 30 per cent population is Christian, started with traditional fervour amid strict adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) laid down by the state government.
“People came out in large numbers to attend the midnight mass. However, only 200 people were allowed to attend the mass in each church and the attendees had to maintain physical distance, wear masks and sanitise their hands,” a priest attached to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Panaji said on Friday.
The size of the crowd for the masses during the day will have to be decided by the priest in each church, he said.
The festival will continue till the New Year, the priest added.
At some places, special pandals were set up outside the churches to accommodate those people who could not attend the mass inside.
A police official said, “No untoward incident was reported during the festival. But police have increased their vigil in view of the crowd.”
Apart from the churches and chapels, people also thronged the beaches across the state at midnight.
Markets in the state were seen packed with items used to decorate cribs, depicting the birth of Lord Jesus.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant wished the people on the occasion.
“Warm greetings and best wishes to the people of Goa on the occasion of Christmas. Christmas signifies a time of love, joy and peace. May the joys of the season fill our heart with goodwill and cheer. Merry Christmas,” he tweeted.