Panaji, Dec 24 : Prayer services with seating arrangements for limited number of persons as per government SOPs, special mass services in churches for senior citizens, and enforcement of face mask rule at all times during prayers are all a part of the new normal amid the coronavirus pandemic as Goa is set to celebrate Christmas this year.
One of the most popular religious events in the coastal state, Christmas-eve mass this time around would be played by the new rules to formally usher in the festive season, said Fr Walter D'Sa, the parish priest of one of the state's significant churches in Goa, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception church.
"The mass in our church will have only 100-seat capacity.
In order to ensure that more persons can participate in the prayer services, we will hold three more services on Christmas," D'Sa said.
He said that a special prayer service will also be held for senior citizens.
"Six-feet distance between two worshipers at the church will be ensured, apart from wearing of masks even during the prayers," the priest said, adding that special arrangements have been made to record body temperatures of those visiting the church for the prayer service.
"Now that we have received reports that the coronavirus has since mutated and is more dangerous than the present one, we do not want to take chances," he said.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Goa, Fr Filipe Neri Ferrao in his special Christmas message said that the festival had "the power to overcome all shades of darkness", which appears to have enveloped the world.
"Christmas this year comes amid most unprecedented circumstances: the Covid-19 pandemic is holding sway over our lives, almost like a cloud of darkness that threatens to overcome the light," he said.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant have extended their wishes to the people of Goa on Christmas.