With messages of peace Christmas celebrated across Kashmir

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The Christian community in the metropolis on Monday celebrated Christmas with due religious fervour and enthusiasm.

With the ringing of Church bells, the religious activities began across the state with curch services, most of which started at 2300 hrs last night.

Special services were held in the main churches in the city on Monday morning.

In Gulmarg's Saint Mary's church, Santa Claus distributed chocolates and candies among the children.

In Istanbul, Christmas ceremonies were held at the Church of Saint George in the garden of the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in the Fatih district, where masses lit candles, prayed and made wishes. "This year also we did not make it so big, but colourful celebrations are taking place", said Father Roy at the Holy Family Catholic Church on MA Road in Srinagar.

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Shah said the officials of the Tourism department would also attend travel and trade fairs to woo more tourists to Kashmir.

People belonging to different faiths greeted their Christian brethren on the occasion. In her message, the Chief Minister expressed the hope that the holy occasion would be an omen of communal harmony, love for humanity and compassion for all across the world.

"We are begging you for the homeless, the poor, the children, the country, the suffering, the oppressed", Priest Maciej Sokolowski prayed during the ceremony. "We wish peace to every brother and sister", he said.

During the mass, prayers for peace, development, and prosperity of Pakistan were also offered. Unlike a year ago, the Mass was conducted inside the church. A representative each from Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Christian communities came together in October to ring the bell at the 121-year-old Catholic Church in the heart of Srinagar, for the first time in 50 years.