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Celebrating Christmas in the new normal

Kuala Lumpur – Christians in the country celebrated Christmas today on a moderate scale and in a spirit of goodwill, in accordance with the new normal to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Worshipers gathered at several churches which were opened at a limited capacity except for areas that have been placed under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO).

No large-scale open houses were held as visits were only allowed with limited number of guests comprising only close family members.

In SELANGOR, Christians began arriving at the Our Lady of Lourd Church in Klang as early as 8 am for a religious service and spent about 15 minutes before returning home.

Pastor Frederick Joseph when met by Bernama said this year’s Christmas celebration at the church was different from those in previous years, as all activities must be done in compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the relevant authorities.

“Last year, about 1,500 worshipers and their families gathered at the church to perform prayer ceremonies but this year we have to follow the SOP considering the Klang district itself is still categorised as (COVID-19) red zone area,” he said.

In PERAK, devotees attending service at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Ipoh were spotted wearing face masks and generally followed the other SOPs set.

Only about 100 Christians were allowed to enter the hall to participate in the religious ceremony which started at 7 am and lasted for an hour.

In NEGERI SEMBILAN, it was a moderate but lively Christmas celebration for about 400 Orang Asli in Kampung Orang Asli Tekir Mentera, Labu.

Headman Ramli Taka, 67, said celebration for the Orang Asli community in the village took place among immediate family members at their respective homes.

“Unlike in previous years, we celebrate Christmas this year at home in adherence to the SOPs set by the government following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.,” he said.

In MELAKA, Christmas was celebrated in a muted manner at the country’s only traditional Portuguese village in Ujong Pasir as no usual cultural performances were held this year.

Village’s Development and security committee (JPKK) chairman Marina Lindadanker said no carolling sessions from house to house were held on the Christmas’ eve in light of the COVID-19 pandemic

“Usually, a week before Christmas various activities and performances will be held which have also become a special tourist attraction here,” she said.

In SARAWAK, the St Thomas’ Cathedral in Kuching which can accommodate up to 1,500 people at any one time today limited the number of attendees to only 200 people.

The Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN) had ruled that Christians in the state were only allowed to hold Christmas celebrations on the first day while visits were limited to only 20 people at a time.

In SABAH, prayer ceremonies were held at churches with limited attendance of congregants in full compliance with the SOPs including wearing face masks and checking-in using the MySejahtera application.

Interestingly, some Christians in the state utilised the technology as a new way of celebrating Christmas including by holding virtual Christmas carolling. – Bernama

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