Srinagar: Wearing Santa hats, a group of Muslims on Sunday converged at a church here, distributed sweets and exchanged greetings as Christmas was celebrated in Kashmir with traditional enthusiasm and religious fervour.
The members of the miniscule population of Christians in Kashmir thronged the churches for Mass at many places. The biggest Mass was held at the Holy Family Catholic Church at Maulana Azad Road here, where dozens of Christians, including women and children, assembled to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ and held special prayers.
The church was decorated with colourful buntings, lights and balloons and it wore a festive look.
A group of Muslims also celebrated Christmas at the church to give a message of communal harmony. They wore Santa hats, distributed sweets and exchanged greetings.
The group members said they came to the church to spread the message of communal harmony, brotherhood and peace.
“We did not want to let them (Christians) feel that they were isolated. This is a very small community. So, we came here to celebrate this festival with them,” a group member said.
Safiya, a resident of the city, said she visited a church for the first time.
“I feel good because people from every community are here and are celebrating with each other, which is very good and rare as well,” she said.
Father Brito said Muslims in the valley have always stood by the Christians.
“Christmas is a message of love, joy and happiness. Our Muslim brothers and sisters are always with us. They always help and support us. This is an opportunity for us to share happiness, joy and love with each other,” he said.
Among the believers were tourists from different parts of the country who joined the locals on the auspicious day.
Similar prayers were held at other churches, including Saint Joseph’s Church in north Kashmir’s Baramulla, the oldest Catholic Church in Jammu and Kashmir, and at a church in tourist resort Gulmarg.