Kolkata: Decked with beautiful chains of fairy lights, Christmas trees and colourful paraphernalia, the aroma of cakes filled the air as the eastern metropolis celebrated Christmas with fervour on Tuesday.
Both Christians and non-Christians soaked in the the Yuletide spirit thronged the churches and streets dotted with embellished Christmas trees and decorations.
At the stroke of midnight, St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kolkata and churches across the state festooned with lights, paper stars, streamers, Christmas trees and candles, drew huge crowds cutting across religious lines.
Daylong prayers were held in all the churches since midnight.
India’s iconic British-era Park Street hosted thousands of revellers from across the world. The arena decorated with twinkling lights, streamers, light displays of Santa Claus on a sleigh, the ceremonial giant Christmas tree, looked no less than a fairyland.
The 8th edition of the Kolkata Christmas Festival had begun on December 21. Christmas carols, choir performances, bands, Kolkata Police band are staples at the Allen Park at one end of Park Street.
Food stalls are another highlight of the festival. This year’s highlight was the buskers (street musicians) regaling the audience for the first time outside Allen Park.
A smaller version of the celebration supported by the state government has been extended to Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Jalpaiguri, Bandel, Chandannagar and Krishnanagar for the first time.
Children and adults, sporting red Santa Claus caps and other Christmas paraphernalia took a much-needed break and indulged in the joyous celebration.
The city’s famous heritage address – Bow Barracks, inhabited by Christians and Anglo-Indians, bustled with activity and the aroma of home-brewed wines and cakes.
Victoria Memorial, Indian Museum, Science City, Nicco Park, the Eco Park and city’s Zoo were tourist hotspots. The city dwellers and visitors from the outskirts gathered in these places and made merry.
Mother House – the global headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa — also witnessed a huge footfall.
Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, ushered in Christmas at midnight with prayers and carols as devotees gathered around a Christmas tree.
Highlighting the festival of Park Street, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “I wish all my brothers and sisters around the world #MerryChristmas. In #Bengal we celebrate #Christmas in a grand manner. Do visit Park Street for the @KolChristmas Festival. Spread the message of peace and joy to the world”.