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Thousands of people, including the devout celebrate Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ, with gaiety and religious fervor across Karnataka, a Church of South India (CSI) official said on Wednesday.

“The day-long festival began with a midnight mass and prayer service in churches and makeshift places of worship in the state, where people braved the chilly weather to usher in the spirit of Yuletide, greet each other and celebrate Merry X’ mas”, a CSI Bishop P.K. Samuel said here.

As the clock struck midnight, church bells rang loud and Christmas carols were sung by choir groups comprising men and women, with lilting music in the background.

“Churches and homes were decked up for the occasion, with illuminating lights and Christmas trees. A replica of the Infant Jesus was placed in cribs in many churches on Tuesday night,” recalled Samuel.

With permission, many malls and markets remained open well-past midnight for shopping and revelry. So also were pubs, bars, restaurants, and eateries.

“Mass service and prayer sessions were also held earlier in the day by the devout in the presence bishops, fathers and teachers in the churches across Bengaluru and other cities and towns in the southern state,” he added.

In the tech hub, the devout thronged churches to pray for peace, prosperity, and happiness in the year ahead and partook the festival food.

Santa Claus was present at most of the churches, greeting and wishing the ardent devotees and gifting goodies to children.

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