Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Members of the Christian community in Bangladesh celebrated the holy Christmas with much enthusiasm, festivity and religious fervour on Sunday.

Christmas, the biggest religious festival of the Christians, is also a celebration of rebirth, new beginning, forgiveness and peace, and renewing relationship with God and humans.

According to Christian belief, Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ in the city of Bethlehem on this day.

The day was a public holiday in Bangladesh as in many other countries.

On the occasion, President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in separate messages greeted the Christian community of the country.

President Zillur Rahman hosted a reception for the members of Christian community at Bangabhaban in Dhaka on the occasion of Christmas on the day.

Marking the carnival, Christians offered special prayers in churches. Churches and adjoining areas have been decked out with colourful tiny blinking lights. Illuminated Christmas trees have been placed with a star standing right on top. Santa Claus handed out Christmas gifts to the children.

Special dishes were prepared in the families of members of the community and the children sought blessings from the elders.

In the capital Dhaka, the celebrations began on Christmas Eve with Christmas carol in hotel lobbies, restaurants, lounges and other public places.

The Sonargaon Hotel, Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, Dhaka Radisson and Dhaka Westin arranged parties featuring carols, games and dance performances.

A festive mood prevailed all around, with the Christmas trees, Chocolate house and fairy lights in the hotels.

To share the joy of Christmas, there were Santa Claus, Mickey and Mini, magic show, puppet show, mini zoo, fortune tellers and live piano music.

In rural areas, the Christian community members prepared and distributed traditional winter cakes while they provided money for poorer people of the community through churches to enable them to join the festival with equal festivity.

Christmas was also celebrated in Chittagong, Rangamati, Khagrachhari, Satkhira, Narayanganj, Nilphamari, Habiganj, Patuakhali and Lakhsmipur with various programs that included prayers, singing of Christmas carols and banquets.

National dailies published special articles, while Bangladesh Television, Bangladesh Betar and private television and radio channels broadcast special programs highlighting the significance of the day.

BBN/SSR/AD-25Dec11-11:58 pm (BST)