Nagaland: Will Christmas amid the pandemic be any different?
Kohima: With just two days to Christmas, EastMojo took to the streets of capital Kohima to find out how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the spirit of this year's celebrations.
While there is cheer and light all around, Christmas means different things to different people. "As Christians, we celebrate Christmas to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. To me, Christmas means a time to reflect upon the love of God and be thankful for all that he had done," says Reyivolu Rhakho.
Christmas is also a time for people to express their love and gratitude by sharing "whatever they have" with each other. "The best part of all the sharing is that it's done with love," she adds.
But, will this Christmas be any different for her due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Likely so. Rhakho says despite the holidays, she is likely to stay back in Kohima this year, without paying a visit to her family in Khulazu Basa village under Phek district.
Unlike the previous years, Rhakho says Christmas gatherings will be avoided. Mass gatherings are not "good at this point of time", she says, adding that will be the biggest difference in how we celebrate Christmas each year.
For Ketholeno Neihu, Christmas is a reminder of god's love and grace. "With the arrival of Christmas season every year, it reminds me to give back. This year, like any of the previous years, I want to give priority to elderly people," she says.
For her, the Christmas celebrations may still be a big celebration. although it may not be as big as the other years. "Of course it would not be as big as the previous years. But it may still be big if we keep our hearts big, the same way we used to. Then it won't be any different, we only won’t be able to meet too many people," she says.
For Martina, who was shopping for Christmas decorations, the festive spirit is in spending time with family members, decorating her home and exchanging gifts.
On why Christmas is special to her, she says, "Baby Jesus is born to this world and we get to experience new life again." But, that is not all. She also loves Christmas "so much" as it is all about holidays, when she gets to spend time with her family.
"Also, preparing gifts for family, relatives and all those things are nice because that is the only time we exchange gifts," she adds. As she prepares to return to her village, she hopes to see "normal" celebrations.
Meanwhile, the state's health department has warned about the alarming scale of events and social gatherings in December, which will have a crucial impact in the fight against COVID-19.
Warned about the risk of widespread community transmission, the department has also reached out to church bodies, civil organisations, district administration and the municipal council, resolving to put a ban on community feasts during the holiday season and recommended take-away packages.