Thousands attend service at the city’s many churches, soaking in the warmth of the festival and spreading good cheer

After a month of carols, candlelight programmes and patient expectation, the city rang in Christmas on Tuesday night. Thousands attended midnight mass and services at churches decked up for the big day on Wednesday.

“This is a personal affair for some of us, a day reserved for family. We meet friends later in the day, and there are no programmes at churches too as people are either visiting other relatives or friends all day,” says Emmanuel John (21), a student who attended mass at the 200-year-old St. John’s Church in Secunderabad along with his family.

For the past one week, Emmanuel and 25 of his friends had been going around from house to house, singing carols. For some like Geoffrey Nikil Paul, a resident of Alwal, Christmas is all about helping the needy.

“For me this is the time to give to those who can’t give back, and to help them,” he mentions.

To add more colour to the lively festival are people from different faiths who go to church for midnight mass along with their Christian friends. Neelakshi Choudhry, a techie working in the city, is one among them.

“I like going to church because it feels nice to be out there with friends at night. The city comes to life at a time when it is usually should be sleeping and I love being there then,” she quips.

Add plum cakes, wine, turkey and many other home-made dishes to the Christmas menu, and the celebrations are a delight. “I love the food at my best friend’s house during this festival, especially the different kinds of cake my friend’s mother makes,” says Anne Nivya, another techie, who will attend morning service at the St. Thomas’ Tamil Cathedral in Secunderabad.

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