ISLAMABAD RAWALPINDI: Christmas festivities envelope the atmosphere of twin cities amid few low key celebrations in the federal capital.
Christmas festivity was seen not only in the downcast areas of Rawalpindi and Islamabad but in leading hotels also. Among the Christian community of twin cities is Naseem- a domestic worker resident of France Colony said: my family had to wear old clothes on the occasion since the tailor had not returned the orders for Christmas. But, it is okay the holidays have just begun, we can always wear the new clothes another day. “Merry Christmas!” her 7 and 8 years old daughters exclaimed in agreement.
In sharp contrast to the restrained and simple celebrations at the Christian colony, local hotels were extraordinarily decorated for Christmas. At the Serena Hotel, the lobby decked out a house carved out of ginger bread surrounded with cotton that resembled snow, glossy buntings, presents, and a stuffed reindeer along with a large Christmas tree. Adding to the surprise of the visitors, a flabby Santa Claus with a thick, white beard, distributed presents while singing Christmas carols.
A visitor Naveed Amir, a hospitality specialist by profession who had come with his family stated the festive celebrations have faint in the twin cities over the years. He said: It used to be much more fun with carnivals and family gatherings. Things have definitely changed owing to security concerns.
Moreover, the Islamabad Police also held a Christmas ceremony at its Traffic Headquarters in respect of the Christian police recruits. At this occasion Asmatullah Junejo-Traffic Superintendent of Police said: there is a need to promote interfaith harmony in the country. We are with you. Your duties in the force are as good as that of any of the other policemen and we acknowledge it, he told his Christian recruits.
In the same way, Christian community of Rawalpindi remained concerned as tensions remained on higher side between two religious sects since the Ashura bloodshed. Christians in the city offered special prayers for peace in the city during the Christmas services in various Churches. At Saint Paul’s Church on the Mall Road in Rawalpindi prayers were offered when the congregation called upon God saying: God, please help, we seek peace in this city. The worshipers said: The people who are trying to sabotage peace of Rawalpindi may get sanity. At this festive occasion, people did not fail to remember the victims of twin suicide bomb blasts at the All Saints Church in Peshawar.What’s more, Midnight Services were also held on Tuesday and along with regular Christmas services on Wednesday at the Christ Church, Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in Lal Kurti, First Presbyterian Church in Raja Bazaar and the St Andrew’s Church in Gawalmandi areas of the city.
Owing to possible confrontation tight security measures were taken by the police in the twin cities consequently, no unpleasant incident was reported.