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» 09/12/2011
INDIA
Hindu nationalist BJP leader LK Advani prays at Marian shrine
by Nirmala Carvalho
On the feast day of the Holy Name of Mary, the political leader placed a garland of red flowers, plus two candles at the foot of the statue of the Virgin. Since the start of September, 15,000 pilgrims have visited the shrine, only 30 per cent Christian. “The devotion of Our Lady transcends religious boundaries,” said Basilica vice rector.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Shri L.K. Advani, a former leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJ), a Hindu nationalist party, visited the Marian shrine at Mount Mary's Basilica in Bandra, Mumbai, where he placed a garland of red flowers and two candles at the foot of the main altar below the statue of Our Lady. Out of reverence and devotion, he prayed for a few minutes. Along with the Basilica’s Vice Rector, Fr Aniceto Pereira, he recited the Memorae. Fr Pereira gave him as a gift a book on the history of the shrine written by Mgr Francis Correia.

The visit has surprised many people given the fact that the BJP is often seen as the moved of anti-Christian violence. Speaking to local media, LK Advani said that local BJP leaders had invited him to visit the shrine. He also said that he is an alumnus of the St. Patrick High School in Karachi, which is run by the Irish Christian Brothers. "Since I have links with the community, I feel happy coming here, meeting the priests here, participating in the prayers and getting the Blessings."

“LK Advani showed great respect for our shrine and religion,” Fr Aniceto Pereira told AsiaNews. “A political leader who asks for God’s grace and help means a lot to us.”

“I prayed to God to guide our leaders and bless them,” the vice rector added. “I know that Christians in other states face a security threat, but the BJP leader came here as a pilgrim, full of faith to ask for Mary’s blessing and grace.”

The Marian shrine in Bandra is a place of harmony and interfaith dialogue because the Virgin draws people of all creeds.

“Since the novena began on the 2 September (leading up to Mary’s Nativity), more than 15,000 people have visited the shrine daily. Just 30 per cent of them are Christians, the rest belong to other religions.”

“Through Mary’s intercession and motherhood, people celebrate their shared humanity: Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Parsees, Sikhs and others. They all share with me the miracles Mary brought to their life. Devotion to Mary transcends religious boundaries,” he explained.

In Bandra, the feast of Mary has been strongly associated with the statue of Virgin Mary at Mount Mary's Basilica for several hundred years.

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See also
09/04/2004 INDIA
Hindus and Christians celebrate one hundred years of Our Lady of the Mount
by Nirmala Carvalho
05/24/2013 INDIA
Marian devotion overcomes religious barriers in India
by Nirmala Carvalho
09/01/2007 INDIA
Millions of pilgrims on foot towards the Lourdes of the East
02/21/2007 INDIA
Marian shrine of Melathurai destroyed
09/05/2012 INDIA - SRI LANKA
Tamil Nadu, 184 Sri Lankan pilgrims attacked at the "Lourdes of the East"

Editor's choices
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"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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