01/20/2016, 12.55
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Bandra: India’s harvest festival like Francis’ Laudato si’

by Nirmala Carvalho

The Sister Disciples of the Divine Master celebrated Pongal in Prarthanalaya chapel. The festival celebrates harvest time and is one of Hinduism’s foremost rituals. For Sister Amita, Laudato si’ “is based on [the principle of] integral ecology and the link between ecology, society and economy,” like Pongal festival.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Sisters Disciples of the Divine Master in Bandra (Mumbai) celebrated today the Indian festival of Pongal at Prarthanalaya Chapel.

Dressed in traditional attire, the nuns walked in procession carrying fruits and vegetables to celebrate such “plenty” and thank God for the “abundance”.

The superior, Sister Amita Mascarenhas PDDM, gave thanks to “the good Lord who, in his Divine providence, blessed us with the unlimited abundance of Mother Earth. For this reason, we are celebrating the festival of Pongal”.

The four-day Pongal festival is one of India’s foremost festivities. It celebrates the harvest and marks the start of a new year. The first day is called Bogi, when people burn away old stuff and prepare for a new life.

The second is Pongal or Surya, when people bring the fruits of the harvest as a thanksgiving to the Lord. Then they boil fresh milk with rice in a decorated jar, and let it to boil until it overflows, symbolising  “abundance”. This way, they wish each other wealth, prosperity, joy, love and peace.

Mattu is the third day of the Pongal festival, and is dedicated to cattle. People dress up cows, goats, and buffaloes with colourful flowers, because of their important role in farmers’ daily life.

The last day is Kannu, when people meet each other. It is a time to visit friends and families, and enjoy their oy and love for one another.

Laudato Si’ opens with St Francis of Assisi’s prayer,” Sr Amita said, quoting from Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Laudato Sì.

“Praise be to you my Lord, through our sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.”

Laudato Sì echoes today’s movements, cultures and faiths across the world,” the nun explained. “It is based on [the principle of] integral ecology and the link between ecology, society and economy, which we celebrate today in the Pongal festival.”

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