Thousands of Mumbai Christians celebrate Christmas with the theme of peace

(Left-Right)-Dr.Abraham Mathai, Addl.CP Dr. Abhinav Deshmukh, Ms.Shazia Ilmi, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Mr.Gul Kriplani (‘Planting Deep Roots of Peace in Harmony with Mother Earth’)

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], December 20: Thousands of Christians along with their church leaders celebrated Christmas ahead of December 25 with the theme of “planting the deep roots of peace in harmony with Mother Earth”.

The 58th annual Prabhu Yeshu Janmotsav, or birthday celebration of Lord Jesus in the western Indian metropolitan city of Mumbai, echoed deeply the compassion, harmony, and reconciliation to usher in peace to all humankind troubled by turmoil and strife.

Catholic and Christian leaders across denominations urged the huge congregation to spread the Christmas message of love, peace and goodwill and the choir groups from various churches sang carols to usher in the festivities of the season.

“Christmas is a season of Hope. The world is in darkness because of the wars in Ukraine, the war in the Middle East, conflicts in different places and we need Hope, we need Light, we need Warmth,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India’s largest Catholic diocese, said.“Christ came down on earth to bring Hope, to give Life, to give Service and to teach us to be Brothers and Sisters of one Family – to make us one Family,” he said. Cardinal Gracias said we are one Family but because of our selfishness sometimes we forget that we are brothers and sisters and there are divisions. “Let’s make this Christmas once again one more effort to make us as brothers and sisters loving each other, serving each other, helping each other, making our city Mumbai a better city, making our country India a better India. Happy Christmas to each one of you and may everyday be Christmas,” the prelate said.

Muslim leader Shazia Ilmi, also the national spokesperson of BJP said she was delighted to celebrate Christmas with the devout congregation.“I extend to you a heartfelt wish and a prayer that we really look at ourselves in the light of Godliness and work on bringing peace and oneness just not within ourselves but for the entire community, for our respective cities, states, India and the world,” the BJP leader said.

“In these tumultuous times of unprecedented disruptions in the world today, Jesus Christ is the only One who can transform the arena of chaos, turbulence and violence into gardens and orchards of Peace and Harmony,” Dr Abraham Mathai, Chairman of Prabhu Yeshu Janmotsav and former Vice-Chairman of Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, told the congregation. He said it is with this assurance that this year’s Christmas message is to transform the arena of war and persecution into a platform of showcasing the virtues of Christ which hold together a society presently torn apart by strife and contention.“When we are hated, persecuted and victimized, we will continue to respond with love, forgiveness and reconciliation,” Mathai said. He said this year’s Christmas celebration encouraged attendees to a united endeavour to plant the deep roots of kindness, compassion, and love on a global scale encouraging thousands of attendees to go back home and cultivate gardens and orchards of peace, and harmony to harvest compassion for suffering humanity. Christian leaders stressed that reciprocal hostility is the cancer devouring the fabric of peaceful coexistence among nations, communities and people at large. Dr.Mathai said the news whether local or international is all about strife and contention. The world is infested with such diabolic acts of extremism, promoting hostility and animosity of such overwhelming magnitude and proportions resulting in mass murders and genocide besides war across nation borders. 

The colourful event held at the sandy shores of Girgaum Chowpatty in Mumbai was first started by the then Maharashtra State Governor’s wife, Lady Tara Cherian, a Christian leader, in 1965. She was the recipient of the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award in 1967 for distinguished service.“This devout event across all Christian denominations has been a regular feature every December for six decades,” Dr.Mathai pointed out.

“We honour her legacy by continuing in the same vein and congregating together year after year, and this year, we celebrate 58 special years of hosting this event,” he said. Additional Commissioner of Police Abhinav Deshmukh of Mumbai was among the dignitaries and bishops, who attended the event.

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