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A snowy Christmas brings cheer in Gulmarg

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GALA TIME: A person dressed as Santa Claus distributes sweets at a ski resort in Gulmarg on Friday.
GALA TIME: A person dressed as Santa Claus distributes sweets at a ski resort in Gulmarg on Friday.

Shujaat Bukhari

GULMARG: It was a snowy Christmas in this famous tourist resort. Scores of people from all over the globe enjoyed the celebrations.

On Thursday evening, a mass was organised at the local Church, thrown open after renovation a few years ago. Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Ministers Nawang Rigzin Jora and Nasir Aslam Wani joined the scores of devotees and local Muslims who prayed for the peace in the region. The 100-year-old church looked beautiful with decorations and glittering lights on a snowy turf.

Mr. Jora, who kicked off a three-day snow festival to mark the beginning of the New Year, said that all those who were at the mass prayed for peace “in this beautiful place.” “Our endeavour has been to make people in the rest of world aware that this is a safe destination and no beauty can match Kashmir,” he said.

The tourists enjoyed the day skiing around. “We not only had a different feeling at the church but we also liked the ski slopes of Gulmarg,” said six-year-old Monty Hamilton, who had come from Bangalore with his parents. “It is a joyful moment for us to celebrate Christmas like this,” said his mother Brijit. She was all praise for Kashmiri hospitality, saying “it is awesome.”

Besides skiing, rugby and baseball were the other attractions for boys and girls who were thrilled to experience snow.

Christmas was celebrated in Srinagar also with traditional gaiety and fervour by the handful of Christians living there. A few hundred Christians joined mass at the Holy Family Catholic Church.Muslims also visited the Church to greet them.

Christians are not much visible in Kashmir though their churches are located in the city centre. According to the 2001 census, there are 20,300 Christians in Kashmir which makes it 0.2 per cent of the population.

Governor N.N. Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah greeted the community.


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