Aizawl/Kohima/Agartala: Christmas was celebrated today across India's northeast region with special prayers, hymns, and masses in churches, besides the traditional spread of delicious food.
Over 5.3 million Christians live in Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur while there are a significant number of Christians in the other northeastern states - Tripura, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh.
The celebrations began from Thursday night with church services and fellowships where the congregation sang Christmas carols - both western and local songs, composed by the local spiritualists and composers.
Police officials Mizoram capital Aizawl said the Christmas eve celebrations on Thursday night were completely peaceful and incident free.
"Adequate security arrangements have been made in Aizawl, its outskirts and other parts of the state to hold the festivity peacefully," a senior police official said.
The traditional festive spirit was evident everywhere at the capital town and other places of Mizoram as the colourful decorations and illuminations were made by the revellers.
Praise and worship services marked the Christmas and community feasts would be held Friday and Saturday in most of the villages and localities of the urban areas.
The festive spirit has also gripped the plains, hills and valleys of Christians dominated state Nagaland as Christmas celebrations started with the stroke of midnight when church bells rang, signalling the birth of Jesus Christ.
Churches, private and government buildings, schools, markets and homes have been decked up and illuminated in Kohima, Dimapur, Mokokchung and several other towns and villages of predominantly Christian state.
Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang appealed the people to forgive and learn from the wrongs of the past, and to steer the destiny of the Naga people to a better future
Shoppers have been thronging markets for the last few days, while people staying elsewhere and students pursuing academic careers in other states have returned their hearths and homes join the festivities.
In Meghalaya, besides decoration of churches, homes and streets putting up Christmas trees with beautiful bells and lights while lighting the streets are the major parts of celebration.
Various state governments in the region have announced holidays for several days to enable the people to join Christmas celebrations.
Governors and chief ministers of the northeastern states have wished the people on the occasion.
Churches in Mizoram, Nagaland and Meghalaya play a very significant role in the life and culture of the northeastern states.
"Christianity is the harbinger of modernity as well as women's liberation in Mizoram. The Christian missionaries, therefore, are regarded as a symbol of modernisation, leading to gradual changes in the conservative attitude of men towards women," a Church head Zosangliana Colney told reporters in Aizawl.
"In a reciprocal gesture, Tripura government has been supplying 40 MWelectricity to Mizoram to help the state to meet their additional power requirements on the occasion of the Christmas," Tripura Power Minister Manik Dey told IANS.
He said during the Durga Puja, Mizoram and Meghalaya provided electricity to Tripura to meet its additional requirement of power.
Non-Christians are also participating in the celebrations and feasts organised by various Christian organisations.