Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Christians in Bangladesh on Saturday celebrated the holy Christmas with much enthusiasm, festivity and religious fervor.

Christmas, the biggest religious festival of the Christians, is also a celebration of rebirth, new beginning, forgiveness and peace. For the believers, it is an occasion to renew relationship with God and humans.

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

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 Christians of the country.

The celebration started on Friday night with ringing church bells, carols and midnight gatherings at all churches and some city hotels.

Churches and adjoining areas decked out with colourful tiny blinking lights. Illuminated Christmas trees placed with a star standing right on top. Santa Claus was seen handing out Christmas gifts to the children.

The programs of the day also included gift-giving by Santa Clause, rendering music, exchange of greeting cards, church celebrations, special meal, and the display of various decorations, including Christmas trees, light, garlands, mistletoe and nativity scenes.

The main program of Christmas Day in the city was organized in the city’s Kakrail Archbishop Church where prayers were arranged last night and this morning both in Bangla and English. Archbishop Paulinus Costa conducted the prayers.

Similar programs were arranged at churches at Tejgaon, Basundhara, Lakkhibazar, Mirpur, Asad Gate, Mohammadpur and Banani in the capital Dhaka.

On the occasion, special dishes were prepared in the families of members of the community and the children sought blessings from the elders.

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

The Dhaka Sheraton Hotel, Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, Radisson Water Garden Hotel, Dhaka Regency Hotel and Westin Hotel Dhaka organized special events including musical programs and game shows.

Security in the capital and other parts in the country were strengthened to ensure peaceful celebration of Christmas.

BBN/SI/AD-26Dec10-12:50 am (BST)