Thiruvananthapuram: Keralites on Sunday celebrated Christmas with traditional fervour and piety rejoicing the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem bringing hope and peace to humanity.
As church bells tolled signalling the moment of Nativity, faithful congregated in large numbers for the Midnight Service in cathederals and churches of various Christian communities where senior prelates and priests conducted the special mass and gave out the Christmas message.
The state, where Christians account for nearly one-fourth of the population, has been in the grip of festive mood for the last several days.
Churches and homes were tastefully decked up with cribs depicting the birth-in-the manger scene and stars twinkling on Christmas trees.
Carol groups of churches and art clubs have been busy visiting houses singing traditional Christmas songs.
Keralite Christians claim that the message of Jesus was preached to their forebears by Apostle St Thomas who landed at Kodungallur in Thrissur district in AD 52.
In the capital city, Arch Bishop M Soosai Packyam led the mass at the St Joseph Cathedral of Latin Catholic hierarchy while Major Arch Bishop led the service at St Mary's Cathederal of Syro Malankara Catholic church.
Senior bishops of CSI, Orthodox, Jacobite and other denominations led the prayers in their churches across the state.
Sumptuous feast was an important feature of the occasion in Christian homes apart from delicacies like cakes and cookies. Syrian Christian homes also prepared a long list of ethnic dishes giving a traditional touch to the celebrations.
Governor MOH Farook, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and leaders of all political parties greeted people on the occasion.