By Matters India Reporter
Chittagong, Feb 11, 2019: The end of 500 years of celebration of Christianity in Bangladesh ended with message of harmony among people of all religions on Feb 8. The occasion was to mark the first settlement of Portuguese Catholic merchants in 1518.
In the interim meeting of the people, irrespective of religion and caste, distinguished people exchange greetings with each other. There were also songs in the dance-dance.
The meeting was held in the courtyard of the Bishop’s House adjacent to Holy Rosary Church in Patharghata in Chittagong city on February 8). In the invitation of Metropolitan Archbishop Moses M. Costa, C.S.C., of Chittagong Archdiocese, various persons from different religions (Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists) were present.
Vatican ambassador to Bangladesh, Archbishop George Kocherry and Archbishop Costa spoke on the occasion.
“Peace and harmony are the religions of all religions. We are always trying to spread the message of peace and harmony, not just this Chittagong or Bangladesh. Not only Christianity, but we all live together in all religions. This peace and harmony is not just for the people on the top floor, it is also spreading at all levels of society, at the bottom. People can understand the word of religion,” said Archbishop Kocherry.
In his message, Archbishop Costa said, “Five hundred years ago, the believers came to East Bengal through this Chittagong. Last year, we celebrated it through a variety of events. We have prayed that the faith in God be stronger in us. We have prayed that we are neighbors of religions. The harmony between us is going on.”
“This concluding ceremony is not end of all. We can work together for the poor, for the victims of discrimination in society. In this society, there is still discrimination between the rich and the poor. We can work together to prevent this discrimination- that is our prayer to God,” said Msgr. Costa.
More than 8,000 Catholics, 100 priests, 120 nuns and 10 bishops from all over the country including Bishop Lumen Monteiro of Tripura, a northeast Indian state attended it.
Among others, Vice-Chancellor of Chittagong University, Dr. Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury, Professor of Pali Department Dr. Zinbodhi Bhikshu, Principal of Ramkrishnna Mission Shaktanathananda Maharaj, representative of Shiite Muslim community Maulana Amjad Hossain, Chittagong City Corporation councilor Hasan Murad Biplob and Ismail Hossain Bali, architect Ashik Imran Chowdhury, joint secretary of Chittagong Press Club Chowdhury Farid, lawyer Nitai Prasad Ghosh, Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council leader Tapash Hord and many other class people addressed the gathering.
Besides, the Christian bishops from all over the country, the heads of Christian missionary educational institutions were present. At the last stage of the meeting was the cultural program. Party dance is performed in prayer music. A spectacular exhibition was a group of small ethnic groups. They presented their classical culture in rhythm of dance.
Coming to the Christianity in Bengal, the soldiers of the Arakan kings were killed in the memory of the martyrs of the song, ‘In the temple of Muktir under the stairs …’. Besides, the tone of respect and love for the country came in the voice of a group of artists, ‘The capital is filled with flowers, our loving mother earth.’
“The two-day closing ceremony was started on Feb 7 in the Dianing hills by offering lamp lighting. It ends with an interfaith meeting. At the same time, we have been continuing the series of programs that have been completed all year round,” the convener of the Media Sub-Committee of the 500-year anniversary of the year, James Gomez, director of the Chittagong region, said.
“We are grateful to God and our pioneers and early missionaries who brought faith to Bangladesh. Five hundred years ago, more than 600 Christian martyrs’ laid down their lives and witnessing Christian faith for centuries,” Mathew Corraya, a local Christian lay leader told Matters India.