The archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar led the flag-raising ceremony, then celebrated a Eucharistic service of thanksgiving. The prelate stressed God's blessing and protection in this time of crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He reminded the faithful of the importance of caring for the environment.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Odisha Catholic Church celebrated India’s Republic Day with migrant tribal communities, who are among society’s most neglected groups.
This morning, Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar (pictured) marked the 72nd anniversary of the birth of the modern Indian state together with migrant tribal families in Jankipada, Vasai East, where only Chotanagpur tribal migrants or Adivasi originally from Odisha, Chattisgarh, and Jharkhand, live.
At 7.30 am, the prelate led the flag-raising ceremony, then celebrated the Eucharist together with migrant tribal families in Vasai.
In his homily, Mgr Barwa said that “We are alive because we are blessed. God is with us; he has preserved us. Let us continue and preserve our Christian identity through our works and our relations.”
Asked by AsiaNews, the archbishop said that the experience was “fantastic, beautiful;” it was “truly moving” because it was shared “with my people, with over 200 families celebrating, joyful and enthusiastic” who “spent weeks preparing”.
The pandemic and the suffering caused by the lockdown “have not diminished their joy. Everyone celebrated Thanksgiving, asking for both protection from COVID, and thanking God for India’s Republic Day and our constitution” as a “secular” state.
Addressing the faithful, Archbishop Barwa “encouraged them to focus on shaping the faith path and raising children” because it is important to have “motivation, competitive minds and critical thinking”.
People must “care for the environment.” Although they live “far from their Chotanagpur plateau, I encouraged them to share their rich tribal culture and wisdom with others and contribute to the environment and ecology of the regions where they now live.”
Indian Republic Day celebrations were organised by the Pahunch Foundation, which is active in Jankipada and Shanti Pada (Vasai) with tribal migrants and Adivasi from Chattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. (NC)