Jingle bells, jingle bells...
Stars of types hanging in front of the shops, cakes in different designs adorning bakery shelves, trees with special lightings...
Yes, it’s the sign of Christmas mood setting in and time for Christian brethren to welcome their Lord with all paraphernalia on the midnight of December 24, Christmas eve.
Preparations have began months in advance at all churches in the city, leaving no stone unturned to make X-mas a special again to the believers; Roman Catholics and Protestants.
At St Philomena’s Church, preparations are on both inside and outside the church with the authorities concerned attending to every minute details. Crib, an integral part of the fest is being readied on the premises near the stores.
Bishop of Mysore Thomas Antony Vazhapilly is expected to lead the mass, with father K C
William and assistant Vijay. The church also assumes significance for being a popular tourist spot across the globe, attracting people from different faiths for its architecture.
Equally significant are churches standing on either side of Bangalore-Nilgiri road facing each other near KSRTC sub-urban bus stand. Church of South India (CSI) St Bartholomew’s Church and CSI Wesley Cathedral.
St Bartholomew’s Church was consecrated 192 years ago in the year 1830 AD. According to a booklet brought out on its 175th anniversary in 2004, the then Maharaja of Mysore Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar generously gifted the site during his reign between 1799-1868.
What adds to its fame is the visit of Prince of Wales — who was to be later king, Emperor George V — worshipped in the church on February 4, 1906, during his visit to the then princely state of Mysore. Later, the next Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) prayed here in 1921.
Wesley Cathedral too is a 142-year-old historical edifice, standing tall with heritage structure since its inception in the year 1870 AD. The prayer hall was later extended according to a stone inscription found on the premises. The mission was first established when the then ruler Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar sold the escort officers bungalow to Wesleyans.
For Christmas, around 4,000 people are expected according to father Rev Vasanth Kumar. The decorations for the days is on.
At CSI Hardwicke Church on Vani Vilasa road in Lakshmipuram, 400 families are expected to gather on the eve and the day of the festival.
In the early 21st century too, churches have come up with the expansion of the city — on the outskirts too.
St Peter’s Church in Bogadi is one such place of worship. The parish began in the year 2000 and was consecrated on February 16, 2009, with Petel Nuncio — Pope’s ambassador to India — doing the honours. What makes it unique is a replica of Grotto of Lourdes in France, where mother Mary appeared in a girl in mid 19th century.
Father Gilbert Aranh said: “The religious place in France is recreated”. The crib here is the main attraction and people from different faiths — mostly Hindus throng the place.
The church has attendance of 150 families. A religious congregation is also arranged on Dec 26.
The Infant Jesus Cathedral on Hunsur road has also made elaborate arrangements with the expected gathering of 2,000 people .
Bishop of Mandya George Njaralktte will preside over the rituals with Fr Rev George Alukka. It is a Syro-Malabar church and a pole with steel covering up to 42 feet is the main attraction. On every occasion; Kannada Rajyotsava, Independence Day and others flags are hoisted here, says its president John G Kunnel.
Another church is Yesu Krupalaya in Ramakrisnna Nagar which is 20 year old with 130 families, according to Father Jairaj.
Similarly, there are many other churches in the city where the mass is being organised and the members have been intimated in advance about the schedule.
* St Philomena’s Church: Midnight mass on Dec 24 and special prayers on Dec 25.
* CSI St Bartholomew’s Church, CSI Sawday Church: Christmas eve (December 24) 6 pm, Dec 25 - 5.30 am, 8 am.
* CSI Wesley Cathedral, Nazarbad: Christmas eve - 6.30 pm to 8 pm. Dec 25 - 8.30 am.
* St Peter’s Church, Bogadi: Christmas eve - 9.30 pm; carol singing until midnight. Dec 25 - 8 am. Star making competition is also organised.
* Yesu Krupalaya, Ramakrishna Nagar: Dec 25 - 8.30 am. n Infant Jesus Church, Hunsur Road: Christmas eve - 10.30 pm.
A long chime indeed
What’s common in St Bartholomew’s Church and Wesley Church, Nazarbad, is the bell tower. At Bartholomew, the tower is separately constructed and in another, it stands on the top of the main cathedral.
The stone inscription at the first church reads that the bell was cast in France in the mid of 17th century for the French army base church in Erode (now Pandavapura) near Srirangapatna. When the British forces defeated Tipu Sultan in 1799, the church was dismantled to build Irwin Canal (now Visvesvaraya Canal) in 1924. The remnants of the church, including the bell was handed over to chaplin Rev G A A Wright of St Bartholomew’s Church. Now, Rev K P Devakumar is the presbyter.
At Wesley, the bell is fixed firmly 40 feet above the ground and is still in use during the services. It is rung twice, with the help of a rope half an hour ahead of the service and the beginning of the service. It stands still from the date of the Church’s inception, says Rev Vasanthkumar.