Islamabad/rawalpindi - asma ghani & israr ahmed - Christmas celebrations have gained momentum in twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad where different ceremonies are being conducted.

A Christmas party and annual Christmas Bazaar were held in Islamabad yesterday to share the joy and festivity of Christmas with the local Christian community, friends, and families.

Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA) arranged the party and bazaar wherein women artisans from Potohar region displayed their handicrafts. These handicrafts included Christmas ornaments, decoration items, household stuff and eatables. Food, beverages, and snacks were also served to the guests.

Over a hundred people including diplomats, members of civil society, journalists and members of surrounding communities came to share the spirit of giving and sharing.

Deeba Rana was among many women artisans from Potohar region who brought their handicrafts made at the PODA skill centres. She was happy to be a part of the festivity that also gave her a good sale.

Grace Sheikh, a social activist from Islamabad, complemented that PODA has continued to make the colours of festivity shine out. She said, “It feels so good to be here and celebrate our happiness with loved ones in a cheerful environment.”

Benazir Jatoi, a development professional expressed, “I am happy and pleased to see the stalls and handicrafts made by the rural women artisans.” She also said, “These handmade gifts give a personal touch of love and care. I found lots of gifts and goodies to go in the Christmas stocking this year,” beamed a happy mother.

A Christmas tree was also decorated and a children’s corner was made where children were entertained with toys, face painting, Christmas songs and fun games. A Santa Claus distributed gifts amongst children and doubled their happiness.

Lynly Butt sang Christmas Carols with the gathering and shared what Christmas is about.

The event was organised for the Christian community of PODA office, diplomats and Christian community in the neighbourhood to celebrate the festive season, said Hira I Rizvi, media and communication coordinator of PODA - a women’s rights nongovernmental organisation working for the promotion and protection of human rights in rural areas of Pakistan.

“The objective was to be a part of their joys to make them feel that we care about you and respect their religious festivals and traditions,” said Hira. “Every community has its cultural and religious festivals and such festivities can bridge the differences between the different communities having different faiths.”

Meanwhile, a ceremony was held at Satellite Town Catholic Church, Rawalpindi, yesterday which was arranged by the Saint Anthony Youth Group.

In the ceremony Rev Sarfraz Saiman, Rev Loius Akash, In-charge Holy Family Church Babu Sajid Ameen participated.

On this occasion, Carol and Christmas songs were played and the renowned singer Pervez Kaifi enthralled the audience. Gifts were distributed among the children.

A Christmas Tree was also decorated.

St Anthony Group Zeeshan Sameul, Azam Sameul, Security In-charge Joseph Jerome congratulated the Christian community. Special prayer was also held on the occasion. City Police Officer (CPO) Israr Ahmed Khan Abbasi assured foolproof security on the occasion of Christmas.

Keeping in view the prevailing law and order situation, he urged the Christian community to be vigilant and inform police immediately if they see any suspicious activity around them. The CPO extended best wishes to the Christian community on Christmas.