On Christmas day, some 45,000 Hindus paid tribute to the Child Jesus in Bhubaneshwar, capital of the State of Odisha, India.
The event is historic, the more so since the Indian State was the scene in 2008 of the most vicious persecution of Christians ever perpetuated in India.
According to Fr Prasanna Pradhan, pastor at St Vincent Cathedral in the state capital, the people of Odisha "have a deep sense of respect and honour for Jesus, who dispels darkness of discord and division and strengthens ties between people."
The clergyman believes that as a result of the sectarian violence unleashed by Hindus in Odisha in the summer of 2008, which killed about 100 people and led to the destruction of 300 churches and places of worship, "Christianity is much better known among people of different faiths".
Mgr John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, thanked the state government for providing "protection to Christians, especially those persecuted in Kandhamal".
"Christmas,” he added, “speaks about Christ. It speaks of how he deprived himself to save sinners. Christmas is about how the Son of God became man and how he lived on earth. Christmas speaks of what Jesus accomplished on the cross and how he conquered death. Christmas tells us how a sinner can meet with God."
In the capital, 25 December was also a day dedicated to the care of the poor and needy. The Missionaries of Charity, an institute founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, handed out a hot meal to hundreds of destitute. (AsiaNews)