Sri Lanka celebrates Christmas in hope for stable 2016

Sri_Lankan_Congreg_3534632bby Jamila Najmuddin

COLOMBO, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) — Along with millions of Christians worldwide, Sri Lankan Christians on Friday celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ by partaking in religious festivities and celebrations organized in many parts of the country.

The year witnessed two crucial elections in the island nation which led to a government change after 10 years and this year’s Christmas was celebrated peacefully following celebrations which began earlier in the month.

Many parts of the country including the capital and star class hotels were adorned in lights and decorations which were an eye catcher especially for tourists.

“This has been the best Christmas in Sri Lanka in 10 years. The whole city is lit up and we have had many festivities organized,” Minister of Tourism and Christian Affairs John Amaratunga said.

Noting that many tourists, especially those from China, had arrived in the country to spend their holidays, Amaratunga said the government had organized a memorable Christmas and New Year for the travelers.

Even the locals, he said, were enjoying the season with various celebrations. “With the economy improving, people can joyfully celebrate Christmas this year,” he said.

Amaratunga, who started off the night by attending Christmas mass along with hundreds of other Christians, said he planned to spend the day with his family and relatives and partake in religious celebrations.

Forty-five-year-old Jeggan Fernando is also a happy Christian this year. Owning a small gift shop in the business hub of Pettah in the capital city, Fernando said sales had been good during the festive season.
“Although till August we did not earn much because of the elections, we have fared much better this Christmas than the previous years. We had more customers this year,” Fernando said.

Arriving at a Church in Colombo to partake in the midnight mass with his wife and two daughters, Fernando however said that he would pray for a stable and brighter 2016.

“I will pray for my country, for a more stable new year.”

Sri Lanka’s economy has witnessed a slow growth rate owing to political instability and the suspension of many international projects in the year, which forced investors to adopt a wait and see approach.
Due to this, not all were happy during the festive season.

“Times have been tough. Earnings were very less this year which is why we cannot celebrate much,” 35-year-old Radhini De Silva said.

Radhini who owns a small private business firm in Colombo said the only celebration she would have is visiting church and her neighbor for a Christmas meal.

Commending the government for its efforts in lighting up the city, she said, however, she would pray for a better new year for her country.

As midnight masses were held in every church, chapel and cathedral in Sri Lanka on Friday, there was a united pray in the country this Christmas that Sri Lanka enters a new year filled with prosperity and stability for its citizens.