By Purushottam Nayak
Kandhamal: March 7, 2019: More than 45,000 people have attended the jubilee of a Marian apparition in Odisha, eastern India.
“Where there is Mother Mary there is Jesus and where there is Jesus there is satisfaction and fulfillment. Mother Mary is not only Mother of God but Mother of everyone who seeks her constant intercession,” said Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, the main celebrant for the 25 years of spiritual journey of persecuted Christians.
Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur and 70 priests assisted the archbishop at the Mass on March 5 held at Partama, a substation of Our Lady of Rosary Parish, Daringbadi in the Kandhmal district of Odisha.
“The silver Jubilee is an opportunity for us to thank God for the accompaniment in the faith journey through the intercession of Mother Mary. It is to celebrate God’s providential care and an expression of deep gratitude,” Bishop Nayak said in his homily.
He commended the Kandhamal Christians for standing firm in their faith despite threat to their life, persecution and humiliation during communal violence in 2007 and 2008.
The Mass began with a dance by 25 parish youth symbolizing 25 years of the shrine’s spiritual journey. The bishops, priests and dignitaries lighted 25 candles before the Mass started.
James Nayak, secretary of the parish council, narrated the origin of the shrine. A Hindu widow, Kamoladevi, went to Partama Mountain to collect wood on March 5, 1994. She saw a man in white dress sporting beard and long hair coming closer to her. He disappeared after sometime.
Then a beautiful woman from distance called the widow and asked her to request the local Catholic priest to build a church to pray rosary for the sinners to repent.
When the woman first shared the experience with her Hindu neighbors they laughed at her.
Another day, a 12-year-old boy came to Kamoladevi and asked her to go to the mountain. When she went there the woman appeared and told her, “I am Mother of Jesus, pray Rosary daily to build the Kingdom of God where peace, joy, love, justice, truth and fraternity will be established.”
Kamoladevi went to the then parish priest Father Alphonse Balliarsingh, the barefoot missionary, to narrate the event. The priest made a committee and built a small grotto close to the Banayan tree where Mother Mary had appeared.
The faithful began flocking to the mountain that was renamed “Mother Mary of Partama.” Kamoladevi was later baptized as Agnes.
“The gathering of hundreds of thousand pilgrims shows people of Kandhamal love peace, unity and integrity. They are growing faith in Christ,” said parish priest Father Anjelo Ranasingh.
Rebeka Nayak, daughter of Kamoladevi, accompanied her mother during celebration. No evil power can destroy the power of faith in Jesus Christ through the intercession of Mother Mary of Partama she said remembering the biggest attack on Christianity in 2007-2008.
Hundreds of devotee lit the candles in-front of the Mother Mary Statue to seek her help and assistance.
“Working in Kandhamal I have experienced that the economical poverty of the people can not distance them to seek God to grow in faith especially through the intercession of Mother Mary,” said Sister Susan of Joseph Sisters Adorers of Daringbadi.
“I have come with strong faith to ask God through the help of Mother Mary,” said Prabina Nayak, a woman from Pokari, a neighboring parish who came with her children.