"We prayed for the well-being of the country and also for those innocent children who lost their lives in Peshawar," Delhi Catholic Archdiocese spokesman Father Savarimuthu Shankar said.

"The celebrations went off very well despite the rapid increase in the number of non-Christians, who visit the churches on Christmas," he said.

After the prayers, plum and fruit cakes were exchanged between friends and families while alms were distributed to the poor.

"Cakes are integral to Christmas celebrations and almost every Christian household prepares them along with other traditional dishes," Shankar said.

According to him, around five lakh Christians live in the national capital. Braving the winter chill, hundreds thronged decked-up churches across the city since morning to offer their prayers and light candles.

The Sacred Heart Cathedral near Connaught Place in central Delhi was decorated with colourful lights, cardboard stars that were lit up in bright colours of red yellow and green and at the entrance was huge Christmas tree decorated with bells, mistletoes, multi-coloured balls and ribbons.

"We visit this church every year and offer prayers and light candles. Christmas is a festival that brings together people from all faiths," said Julia Ribiero, a high school student.

Meanwhile, strict security arrangements had been put in place by Delhi Police following a suspected arson attack on a church in Dilshad Garden earlier this month.

According to a police officer, around eight to 10 police personnel were deployed outside each church in the city since Wednesday evening.

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