Guwahati: Churches in Guwahati are gearing up for Christmas celebrations, with various congregations finding different ways to celebrate the festival. For now, it is unlikely that the emergence of the new variant ‘Omicron’ will dampen the spirits. 

In the preceding year, the government had issued an SOP stating that huge gatherings were not allowed, and churches were restricted to only limited people as COVID-19 cases were at their peak. 

“Christmas is such an event where we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We want everybody to know why Jesus has come to this world. But then, there is wave after wave of COVID and the threat of Omicron. The government is grappling with all that, thus, we would like to fully cooperate with the government,” Sam Israel, Master of Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship Church, Jayanagar Road, Guwahati, told EastMojo.

“We would like to celebrate this Christmas in a lowkey manner. Normally, we print cards and invite people to come and visit us. However, this time we have not done that. We have been cautious in inviting people and that’s why we are doing it online too. We want to celebrate with a limited number of people. Also, we have a children’s item—Sunday school children item—and we have done it online. We are going to project the children item on the screen, where both the parents and children can enjoy in the comfort of their own homes. Thus, there will be very limited people gathering here on Christmas Eve,” Israel added.

“On 25th, we will help the needy. Some of our sisters are visiting the addiction centres, talking to them about the love and affection of God and how God has come to save and deliver them from all their addictions. In my life, God has delivered me from my addictions and so we want to spread this good news to people so that people might be blessed,” he said.

Tarun Singh, a Reverend from Dispur Baptist Church, said, “This Christmas, we will only allow those people who have taken both the doses of vaccine; this is our criteria. We already know the respective members of our church; we have deep faith in them, so we’ll not check their vaccination status, as they are already vaccinated.”

“We have all the precautionary measures like masks and sanitisers. Sticking to all those, we will ask the people to maintain social distancing and abide by the Covid norms. We also have Zoom services and other online sessions, where people, if not able to visit, can watch the events from their homes,” he further added.

Talking about the preparations, he said, “Worship is the most important part of any festival. Without worship, nothing’s going to work. As for Hindus, puja is the primary thing, and the rest are secondary; it is the same for us. We have prepared special prayers, songs, hymns and skits for our invitees so that they feel happy and cherish their moments along with us on the day of Christmas.”

While some churches will abide by the government’s decision, others had contradictory opinions. An official of a Beltola church told EastMojo, “We can all see that meetings, campaigns, etc. have huge gatherings and crowds. However, the same is restricted in the case of religious congregations. Why so? Won’t COVID spread in political meetings and campaigns?” he asked. 

Furthermore, he said, “Even if the government issues new rules before Christmas, we will not abide by it. Christmas is our only religious festival and we will celebrate it in full hustle and bustle. We have invited hundreds of people and everyone is allowed. Additionally, we have organised special programs and performances by the kids, which will cherish and refresh everyone.”

Also read: Christmas 2021: Affordable décor items you need to buy NOW!

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