It was a testament to the resilience of the city’s Christians. Despite all expectations of a sparse attendance at churches, at least one had to close its doors on those not lucky enough to find space inside.
The pastors delivered their sermons, then prayed for peace and prosperity in the country. A special mass was held for those who lost their lives in the war on terror and the brutal attack on All Saints Church on September 22. PHOTOS. MUHAMMAD IQBAL/ EXPRESS
St Michael’s Church, St John’s Cathedral and All Saints Church were filled with beats of the tabla and rythm of the harmonium as young people sang carols in Urdu with a ‘hallelujah’ at the end. The girls were dressed in beautiful red dresses while many of the young men were wearing shalwar kameez and jeans. Many people were hanging around the nativity scene. There was also a Santa Claus going around ticking children off his good and bad list.
More than 1,000 people showed up for mass at St Michael’s Church. The pastor had to close the doors to the main hall as there was no place to sit. Men, women and children who arrived late for the morning service had to sit outside to hear the sermon.
According to the administrator of the church, Prince Javaid, a thousand people could easily be accommodated in the hall but they weren’t expecting so many people to show up. He added that there was no difference in the way they were celebrating Christmas this year as compared to last year.
However, things have changed. For one, there is much more security at all the churches. Male and female police officers were on duty. They only let people in after a full body search. Other members of the police force were also patrolling the areas in plain clothes.
At St John’s, which is just a short distance from St Michael’s, people came pouring in dressed in their Sunday best.
The pastors delivered sermons and then prayed for peace and prosperity in the country. A special mass was held for those who lost their lives in the war on terror and the brutal attack on All Saints Church on September 22 in which around 86 people died.
Despite their festive look, there was a certain sadness which was reflective in most of the sermons.
“Although we are going through a tough time, today is the birthday of Yasu Masih (Jesus Christ), so we will do what we do every year,” said Mashal Chaudhry, a young girl attending festivities at the church. “Today, is the right day to offer prayers for all those who lost their lives, not only in the All Saints Church blast, but all over the country, and hope that the situation will improve.” She added that besides caroling, they used to have cultural programmes lined up for the day after Christmas, but this year they were going to celebrate with simplicity. Many presents were distributed among members of the community and children of the people who lost their lives in the September 22 blast.
In Mohmand Agency
The Christians of Ghallanai also celebrated Christmas with full fervour on Wednesday. There was a special event held for those members of the community living in Civil Colony. Assistant Political Agent Jamshed Khan and other officials of the political administration were present. Khan cut a cake with community elders like Babu Nadeem and Master Nawaz. Children sang carols as people turned up to attend mass and meet each other. The event was carried out under tight security arrangements. The officials of the political administration announced Rs2,000 Christmas packages for Christian employees and Rs20,000 grant for the church.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2013.