New Delhi: A spirit of yuletide pervaded the air as faithful packed decked up churches for prayers with midnight mass, resonance of carols and merriment ushering in Christmas across the country on Sunday.
      
People, attired in their best, bonded in prayer and mirth as sparkling Christmas trees and colourful gift items adorned marketplaces which wore a festive look.
     
Stores stocking Xmas merchandise were inundated with shoppers as exchange of greetings and gifts, community feasts and colourful processions marked the occasion.
     
Traditional Christmas carols rendered the air festive with gospel bands enthralling the merry-makers with songs like 'Jingle Bells', 'Oh Holy Night' and 'Santa Claus Is Coming to Town'.
     
It was a busy day for Santa Claus, a man in red with a flowing white beard, who went from place to place cheering the revellers.
    
Sumptuous feast, including delicacies like cakes, formed an important part of the celebrations in many homes.
    
As bells tolled, worshippers thronged churches and cathedrals decorated with twinkling lights for the midnight service with priests dishing out Christmas messages.
    
Redemption, rejoicing, feasting and singing marked the birth of Jesus Christ in the North-East which has sizeable Christians.

In Kerala, agog with festivities for the past few days, churches and homes were tastefully decorated.
     
The festive spirit soaked Tamil Nadu where people from several parts of the country and abroad thronged the pilgrim town of Velankanni in Nagapattinam district to celebrate Christmas.
    
President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greeted the nation on the joyous occasion saying the festival signifies ideals of brotherhood, love and compassion.

Agencies