Shillong: Midnight services in churches across the state heralded the birth of Jesus Christ as tourists and locals joined in the festivities with religious fervour, mixed with merriment of exchanging greetings and gifts with friends and relatives.
Meghalaya`s capital city of Shillong was decked up for Christmas and the forthcoming New Year celebrations as government and private buildings as well as street corners were illuminated and decorated with Christmas trees, banners and festoons.
Special programmes including traditional Christmas carols and colourful processions rendered the air festive and solemn.
Tourists flocked to this hill state to participate in the Christmas celebrations as well as to take a taste of the winter season.
Individual artistes and gospel bands enthralled crowds with traditional Christmas songs like `Jingle Bells`, `Oh Holy Night` and `Santa Claus Is Coming to Town`.
Hectic last minute shopping and nightlong concerts marked the Christmas Eve. Commercial hubs of the city like Police Bazar and Iewduh (Barabazar), one of the biggest markets in the North East, were crowded with people buying clothes, foodstuff and other Christmas items for the past one week.
Long queues were seen in front of prominent bakeries in the city selling `designer` cakes. Known for attractive illumination during Christmas and New Year, Garo Hills too is agog with festivity even as Tura town was illuminated with different coloured lights.
Unique to its tradition, almost every tree in Tura is decked up with lighting symbolising Christmas trees.
Arch Bishop Dominic Jala said, "This is a festival which allows people to come together as it marks the coming of Christ into this world.
Christmas symbolises peace and prosperity among mankind and people should work for the benefit and welfare of humanity".
Meghalaya Governor RS Mooshahary wished people a joyful Christmas and hoped that the spirit and warmth of Christmas will bestow enduring peace and joy in life.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, on behalf of his cabinet colleagues, also wished people a very happy Christmas.
"(Let) the birth of Christ will usher in love, peace and harmony amongst all," he said.