Soaking in the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked cakes and brewing wines, Kolkata on Monday revelled in the Yuletide spirit with people of all ages celebrating Christmas.
Special prayers, hymns and masses in churches drew the devout by the thousands, but for the eastern metropolis – the capital of British ruled India till 1911 – the day was much more than a religious occasion, rather a summation of faith, food and fun.
The reverberating sounds of the church bells toiling on Sunday midnight ushered in the festivities, as hundreds of devout Christians assembled at that hour for a mass in the age-old St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Decked up in fairy lights, the fashionable Park Street looked bewitching, as a large number of people from the city and the outskirts gathered to have a good time.
Colourful snow streamers, sparkling battery-operated stars, snowbells, dancing Santas, musical Christmas trees, foldable trees, wreaths and foldable decorative items and baubles, decor shops have lined up a host of ornaments adding the extra glitz to the festivities.
There was also good attendance at Allen Park, where the ongoing Kolkata Christmas Festival held cultural soirees and a food fest attracting both the young and the old.
The city’s famous heritage address – Bow Barracks – inhabited by Christians and Anglo-Indians, bustled with songs and dances while the aroma of ginger wines and plum cakes added to the festive atmosphere.
Mother House – the global headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity (MoC) founded by St. Teresa – welcomed hundreds of visitors, who started pouring in since morning.
Groups of enthusiastic urban travellers headed to rural Bengal to enjoy the holiday relishing sumptuous feasts and spending quality time with their near and dear ones.
Tourist hot-spots like the Victoria Memorial, Indian Museum, Nicco Park and the Eco Park saw a heavy footfall.
Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, also ushered in Christmas at midnight with prayers and carols as devotees gathered around a Christmas tree.