Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the country is all set to celebrate Christmas, albeit with restricted entry to churches, live streaming of services, and no midnight Mass. In Delhi, celebrations at Sacred Heart Cathedral will be low key due to the pandemic. “The participation of people in the mass service has been restricted by 95 per cent this year,” Father Stanley Kozhichira, spokesperson of Archdiocese of Delhi, told IANS.
Father Kozhichira further said that each mass will only admit 100 people this year. Last year, as many as two lakh people had visited the church. “This year, we are restricting the participation and not letting anyone enter the campus.”
On Christmas Eve, the Mass will be held at 6 pm and 8 pm, while on Christmas Day, four masses will be organised in the morning. The Masses will be streamed live on YouTube and Facebook, he added.
Maharashtra, which accounts for the highest number of coronavirus cases and has also clamped a night curfew, will also have a toned-down Christmas celebration this year.
“We discussed with the Mumbai Police and Home Department to allow 200 people for the Christmas Mass, but the orders have already come allowing only 50. If possible, individual churches can stagger the Midnight Mass timings, or hold it in more number of places or do it online,” said Oswald Cardinal Gracias, the Archbishop of Mumbai.
The Archbishop asked people to not violate the Covid norms of wearing masks, sanitising, physical distancing, and cleanliness, under any circumstances. “I appeal to all the people to celebrate Christmas strictly adhering to all the Covid-19 protocols of the state government,” he said.
The Bethel AG Church in Bengaluru has come out with a new method of celebrating, dubbed as Worship on Wheels, a one-of-its-kind contactless, drive-in Mass service, wherein devotees will park their cars in a three-acre property and worship inside their vehicles. The church will install multiple screens and speakers at the drive-in location.
“People will come in cars and worship. Worshippers will be wearing masks and maintain social distancing. No midnight service will be there on December 24 because of the night curfew. Online service will, however, be there,” said Associate Pastor Danny Kuruvilla.
Another church in Bengaluru – St Marks Church – also said that there will be no midnight Mass. “We will have the Mass at 7 p.m. on Thursday. On Friday, we have it at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. We are expecting only 200 or 250 people. Online services will be there,” said Administrative Officer Arun Kumar.
He added, “This year we will see a completely toned down celebration. Definitely, the whole world is going through a lot of stress, we also feel that celebrations should be very low key.”