As the state government brought into effect a night-time curfew from December 24, between 11 pm and 5 am, churches across Bengaluru will now bring in the Christmas cheer earlier than usual by pushing the the midnight Mass service earlier in the evening.
Despite Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's announcement just a day before Christmas eve celebrations, Mass goers and Christmas lovers did not let it dampen the holiday spirit.
Several churches in the city have now scheduled their Masses for the late afternoon or evening of December 24, even though the CM said midnight Masses can be held without obstruction as long as they follow social distancing norms.
“We will keep the celebrations low-key this year because there are people who are suffering. We have to go through nature’s laws. We will not hold a midnight Mass, but service at 7 pm on Christmas Eve, and it will be attended by a maximum of 250 people,” Arun Kumar, administrative officer at St Mark’s Cathedral, told DH.
The service will also be live-streamed for people who wish to watch from home, something that's being taken up by many churches in the city so that people can celebrate with their families in the safety of their own homes.
The Holy Trinity Church will also share a live webcast on its website of the service which will be held at 6 pm. The church is expecting a crowd of 300 people for the in-person service.
“Aged people who cannot make it to the service can watch it online,” Church Secretary DJ Lawrence said. “People will not be satisfied with this year’s Christmas services, but due to Covid-19, we have to follow some rules,” he said.
Churches are also scheduling additional sessions on Christmas morning and throughout the day to compensate for the missed midnight Mass. “We will have service at 5.30 pm on Christmas Eve, and we have increased the number of services on Christmas Day. Despite all the problems, we will celebrate our festival with hope and faith,” said Father Marshal Pradeep of St Patrick’s Church.
Due to new restrictions in the Covid-19 times, people have to let go of some of their favourite Christmas activities. “Door-to-door caroling, something we have been doing for years, will not be possible this time,” Nithin Xavier, youth president at the Ascension Church in Bengaluru, said. But he believes Christmas within restrictions is just one of the many things that have changed now and is eager to see how it turns out.
Ascension Church will conduct a service at 7 pm. Meanwhile, Indiranagar Methodist Church will conduct an online service at 8 pm on Christmas Eve and 9.30 am on Christmas morning. St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church will hold a 6 pm service. Bethel AG Church will have virtual and drive-in prayer services on Christmas Day (December 25).