New Delhi/Mumbai: Christmas is being celebrated with religious zeal and enthusiasm throughout the country Tuesday.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh have greeted the nation on this auspicious occasion.
President Mukherjee in his message said ``let us renew in our minds and hearts the teachings of love and compassion of Jesus Christ and recall his sacrifice for humanity``.
"On the occasion of Christmas, I convey my greetings to all and wish everyone a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year. May the Christmas bells dispel hatred and violence. As the world lights candles for Christmas this year, may the spirit of caring and sharing pervade our beings," he said.
The Prime Minister in his message said that Christmas is a special opportunity to spread the spirit of peace.
"The festival of Christmas gives the hope to strengthen the values of brotherhood, tolerance and caring. May the festival bring happiness and prosperity to all," he added.
Streets of the national capital are decorated, while shops are all wrapped in Christmas colours to attract the customers.
From clothes to accessories and from wines to gifts, Christmas has given the locals a reason to shop.
"Everybody wants to just get out of their houses, come out, shop, and it`s not restricted to the very rich people," said Atul Ruri, a resident here.
The month of December has seen a substantial increase of activity in shopping malls and markets, which retailers have been happy to see.
The increase in the number of people celebrating the holiday is largely because of western influence and increasing options, according to local retailers.
"There is winter, there is New Year`s, so it`s not just Christmas. People are shopping, coming here for New Year`s. New Year`s Eve is a big deal here. Everyone is shopping for their parties. So there are a lot of crowds coming in right now for New Year`s and Christmas," said Gayatri Chopra, a local storeowner.
Nita Ambani, wife of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, enjoyed Christmas Eve with underprivileged and physically-abled children in Mumbai yesterday.
Ambani accompanied the children to a toy store, where the young girls sang Christmas carols for them.
Children were also greeted by their favourite Santa Claus with gifts, chocolates and candies.
Ambani said that children will visit the store for three days and a distribution of presents of their choice will be held.
"I am delighted to spend time with all these children and we have this going on for three days. So, the children will come to the store for three days and all of them will get gifts and we will all spread Christmas spread together," she said.
Christmas is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus and is celebrated by millions of people around the world.