KARACHI: The children of Karachi's Neelum Colony eagerly awaited the arrival of Santa Claus and his bag of presents after they returned home from church on Sunday.
The month of December is a festive season for the Christian community, especially the children. The expressions of the kids changed and their faces filled with joy when they saw Santa Claus coming towards them from the end of the street. Raheel Johnson, a community social worker and an engineer by profession, dressed up as Santa Claus and brought gifts for the children of Neelum Colony.
One of the children, Yousuf Bhatti, shouted in excitement as he, along with the other kids, ran towards Johnson. "I did not know the children were expecting me to visit them," Johnson said, as tried to stop the eager children from snatching the gifts.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Johnson said he does not work for any non-governmental organisation and saves money all year long to buy Christmas gifts for the children. "I bring small stuffed toys, candy, stationery and storybooks for the children," he said, adding that this time he brought a few extra things, including a few cricket bats and footballs. Johnson said he distributes the gifts according to age. The older children get the cricket bats while the younger ones get candy and stationery, he said. Recalling last year's Christmas, Johnson said that when he visited the area, he made a promise to come back next year and celebrate Christmas with these children.
The children expressed joy and happiness on getting gifts. One of the kids, who got a cricket bat as a gift, said that Jesus sent Santa with a bat for him and fulfilled his wish.
Bishop Sadiq Daniel led prayers at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, where a large number of families attended mass. Dressed up in colourful clothes, the people celebrated Christmas by exchanging sweets and gifts.
Addressing the congregation, Bishop Daniel said that Christmas reminds them of harmony and gives everyone a message of peace and love. He added that together we can achieve a tolerant society where there are no differences. "No religion promotes violence. All of them teach us to follow the path of peace and tolerance," he said. Special prayers were held for the betterment of the country and the people.
Anila Rodrigues, a college student attending the prayers with her family, said that Christmas is a day of happiness and reminds them to follow the path of peace and to learn tolerance while living with people of various religions. Rodrigues added that she does not only celebrate this day with her Christian friends, but with her Muslims neighbours as well, who always send gifts to her home on Christmas.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2016.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ