Churches focus on harmony, inclusiveness

Kolkata: The churches in Kolkata preached the message of forgiveness, inclusiveness and love for the neglected and the downtrodden.

Thousands attended the midnight Mass and special prayer services in the morning at churches like St Andrew’s on Brabourne Road, St John’s on Council House Street, St Paul’s Cathedral in Maidan and Duff Church in Manicktala. The chapels reverberated with the harmony of the hymns, recitals from the Bible and prayers for forgiveness.

“Jesus came for everybody — he does not belong to any particular community or sect. His message of peace, love and forgiveness is for every living being. He gave the message of religious harmony, which is very relevant even today,” said Father Pradeep Kumar Nanda of St John’s Church.

Father Swarup Bar of St Andrew’s Church spoke of a concept called “alternativity”. He said it was the responsibility of the empowered to “protect the minorities”.

“Under this concept, we tell people to think about Christmas from the perspective of the poor, neglected and the downtrodden. They are a minority and all of us have a responsibility to uplift and keep these minorities safe. I also told the devotees to resist from the temptation of overspending. I requested everybody to spare a thought about nature and ecology — we have equal responsibility towards nature,” Father Bar said.

On Friday, while inaugurating the Kolkata Christmas Festival on Park Street, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had spoken about the freedom of every community to “observe their traditions, worship their God and celebrate their festivals”. Her comments came in the backdrop of caution to some schools and groups in other parts of the country from celebrating Christmas and singing carols.

But in Kolkata, millions celebrated the festival irrespective of their faith and community. The clergymen at several churches told devotees that Christ’s teachings of peace, love and forgiveness were most relevant in the current times.

“Christmas is not only for Christians. It is for everybody. This is the reason we say ‘joy to the world’ and not only to a particular community. The message of Christmas is about peace, joy and inclusivity. It is about understanding that simple living is high thinking,” said Reverend Biswajit Biswas of Duff Church.

(Source: Times of India)

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