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Thursday, 24 December 2020

Christmas spirit in Covid times: Midnight mass online

Amarjot Kaur
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 23

Haunted by the 'ghost of Christmas Covid', this year's Xmas celebrations have moved to either virtual spaces or smaller, tight-knit groups of families and friends. While shopkeepers are ruing slow business because of lesser footfall, churches are routing mass services through online platforms to evade the virus. Small-scale Christmas decoration sellers are the worst hit.

Services at Church on Xmas

  • The Pastor Committee Members of Christ Church CNI, Sector 18, said the church had organised online midnight mass service on December 24 from 6pm to 7pm by Rev. Demzal Peoples. "The mass service will be live-steamed on our Facebook page and on Christmas Day, the church will be open only from 10 am to 5 pm," said committee secretary Prakash Masih. He added, "This year, we didn't even have much of carol singing as the band visited only 40 or 50 houses, that too on prior invitation."
  • From Christ the King Cathedral in Sector 19, Father Lawrence said: "The midnight mass vigil will be held at 5:30 pm, 7 pm and 9 pm on December 24 and on Christmas day at 8:30 am, 9:45 am and 5 pm. We have taken all measures to ensure social distancing and will be streaming services online."

Outside Christ the King Cathedral in Sector 19, Soni (name changed) is caught between winding up her shop and making the last sale at about 4pm. She says: "The MC officials came here today and have asked us to move to Sector 53. It's a jungle and no one comes to shop for Christmas ornaments there. This is the only time of the year we can make an extra buck, but the officials are adamant."

Another vendor near the church, Saraswati Devi, shares, last year she made Rs 10,000 by selling these deacute;cor items in just three days. "It's not as if we are setting up stalls here permanently. As it is not many people are visiting the church this year because of the pandemic, but the fact that MC officials have confiscated the Christmas decorations on display," she adds.

Selling Christmas trees and other festive symbols in Sector 20, Naveen Goyal, owner of Vijay Flour Mills, says only 25 per cent of business remains from what it was a year ago. "We are not getting as many visitors as we did last year," he says. A few shops away, Kunal Jindal, owner of Gupta General Store, shares: "This year, we didn't even get any wholesale decoration orders from hotels for Christmas celebrations. We are left with only 60 per cent sales and that is basically retail sales."

On celebrating Christmas this year, Shalini Khandelia, a resident of Sector 19, says, "We are restricting the party to close friends and family to keep the virus away." From Mohali, Harman and Parveen possibly sum up the lesson learnt from the 'Ghost of Christmas Covid', "Lockdown has made us realise family's worth and it has changed the social fabric. We will host a small Christmas party for family to celebrate the occasion."

from The Tribune

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