Away from the bullets: New Year’s Eve mass to be held before midnight

To avoid the threat posed by aerial firing The Church of Pakistan alters timings.

Our Correspondent December 31, 2013

KARACHI: Lovita was busy listening to the message of the pastor at the New Year’s Eve mass last year, when suddenly the sound of aerial firing and shelling gripped the area and hit a man with a bullet in his head.

“I saw two people getting injured,” she said recalling the midnight mass at the Central Brooks Memorial Church in Saddar.

This year, some of the churches would be winding up their prayers and sermons before the clock strikes 12. The masses are scheduled earlier to prevent any untoward event that may take place as a result of celebratory firing done at midnight to mark the transition from one year to another.

“The midnight mass takes place to mark the start of the New Year with prayers,” she said adding that at some places a cake cutting ceremony also takes place. This year, we all want to get home before midnight as the firing starts at that time.

In her church, the midnight mass would start from 11pm and would go up till 1:00am every year, but this time the prayers would start at 10pm.

In last year’s aerial firing on New Year’s Eve, a girl from Punjab attending the prayers at the Drigh Road church died when the firing broke out.

Reverend Shahid Sabir of the Holy Trinity Cathedral said because of the ongoing law and order situation and the ritual firing held every year, this time the prayers in Urdu would start at 9:30pm.

Last year at a church in Garden, another man was also injured. “The killings have increased over the years and this year we did not want to take any risk,” Sabir said.

A member of the Christian community, Asif Masih, called the firing on such occasions a menace, and said his family would prefer to pray inside homes. At old Golimar where his church lies, Masih said that after listening to the pastor’s sermon, they would be taking their prayers and celebrations inside home. “Firing and fireworks disturb our prayers also and we can’t concentrate and listen properly.” If we try to stop the men, they threaten us, he said.

However, at Catholic churches, such as the St Patrick’s Cathedral, the timings of the midnight mass have not been changed. Father Saleh Diego said the mass service would be held as scheduled from 11:30pm onwards. “Timings have not been changed at our churches because we get security on special occasions,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2014.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

Most Read