Jeddah: Amid fears of Covid-19, the Telugu Christian community living in the Gulf celebrated a subdued Christmas. With much of the year witnessing stringent Covid-19 restrictions, many took the festivities, partly or wholly, online, creating virtual spaces for people to connect, while others had to cancel. Unlike in the past, the celebrations were a muted affair this time.
Sermons during the holy masses stressed the Christmas message of love, peace and harmony while preachers touched upon the lessons taught by the Covid-19 pandemic that has been shaking the world for the last nine months
In Jeddah, the Telugu Christian community held the Christmas mass online, and many faithful celebrated the event individually under the guidance of Hanok Abhinav and Brother Anil.
Several families that live in faraway desert towns and villages also joined the event. “Adhering to the health protocols, we celebrated the festival spiritually,” said Aruna, who hails from Patancheru.
In Dubai, Pastor J Yesuratnam, along with Stephen Daniele Babji Rao, held the mass in Telugu at the Trinity church compound. Safety guidelines stipulate that those who plan to attend the service at churches must take the RT-PCR test.
“It was a completely different experience compared with previous Christmas festivities. I missed gathering and collective celebrations at the church compound,” said Shalma Balirega, an NRI hailing from Warangal and living in Dubai.
Welcoming preventive measures, he said he was missing home-made cakes and Santa Claus gifts in the digital space.
In Sharjah, there was no Telugu Christmas mass this year, but many held the event online, according to Pastor G Anandam.
In Kuwait, churches were closed as a preventive measure. Normally abuzz with thousands of Telugu expats, the Malwia church had turned silent this year, according to NRIs. “In my 22 years of stay in Kuwait, for the first time I didn’t attend the Christmas mass,” said Anil.
In Oman, Bahrain and Qatar too, the festival was celebrated on a low note.
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