By Lissy Maruthanakuzhy
Nagpur: Women empowerment, ecology and wild life were among themes of art exhibition organized by some seminarians in Nagpur, central India, on Christmas Day.
More than 100 painting by the students of Pilar Niketan are on canvas, paper and glass. They include, glass paintings, Warli art, stitch art, wood art, sketch, oil painting, shading, silhouette.
Their themes include religion, nature, astronomy, women empowerment, Mother Teresa, Wild life, water life, ecology, transition in life and creation. The painting are on sale and 19 of them are on Jesus and his mission. Mother Mary, Mother Teresa and saints also feature.
Fr Agnelo Gomes, former Rector who had training in mass media, encouraged and pruned those with innate talents, said seminary rector Fr Octaviano D’cunha.
In the past years they put up plays on St Francis of Assisi and Bishop Oscar Romero written and directed by Fr Agnelo and a team of students.
Pilar Niketan, the study house of the Pilar seminarians was opened in 1970 at Nagpur. It now has 48 young men studying and arts, Fr Octaviano said.
The students excel in their academic as well as extracurricular activities such as singing and music. This year they won seven prizes for their carol singing in different places, according to Pilar Father Jowett Gomes, who teaches philosophy in the seminary.
These are opportunities for them to bring out the best in them, Fr Jowett asserted.
Bro Xavier Soreng, a Philosophy student who has four paintings on display, said he used to paint as a child. Pointing to his painting of a frog playing guitar he explained, “There are tunes in nature that can be put into songs.”
His painting are named Agape Love, Raining Tunes, Gods creation and Believe (St Thomas‘s finger in the wound at the side of Jesus).
Christmas Day also attracts thousands of people to churches such as St Francis De Sales Cathedral in Nagpur. They come to pay homage to Baby Jesus and to learn about the life of Jesus.
Most residents of Nagpur practice Buddhism since 1956, the year when the architect of the Indian Constitution B R Ambedkar and 38,000 Dalit people accepted Buddhism.
The neo-Buddhists appreciate the teachings of Jesus Christ, according Manjusha Kishore, a Buddhist who regularly attends Christian prayers.
The Archdiocese of Nagpur organizes carol singing, exhibitions, crib competition, video on the life of Jesus and praying over people at different localities.
The St Charles Seminary which trains students from various dioceses of India for priesthood avail this opportunity to impart the message of Jesus to the visitors from morning till evening through songs and visuals.
While an expansive crib welcomes the visitors at St Charles’ seminary, the choir sings out carols from atop the crib, and a short video in the adjoining hall give the seeker an insight into the purposeful birth of Jesus, according to Fr Peter Mendonza, a seminary professor.
A teenager who watched the nativity story shared, “Now I know how much trouble Joseph and Mary took to bring Jesus into the world.”
Says Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara, “The students get an opportunity to proclaim , to put into practice what they are learning. Later on they can use it when are placed in parishes.”
Dominical Father Jose Thomas, the parish priest of Rosary Parish, said many visitors seek blessings from priests at the grotto of our Lady of Fatima near the church.
A crib competition was organized in the cathedral parish this year. “People want to see something. It is a central place where lot of people come to see the crib. It is an opportunity to share the values of Christ. People like to see signs and symbols,” the prelate told Matters India.
“The crib that won the first prize was made by the students of Pallotti School, with the help of non-Christian teachers. They googled to understand how to place the figures in the crib. In the process they are learning,” Archbishop Abraham explained.