In Atalaya host families welcomed the 56-member Indian delegation. Celebrations, cultural activities, songs and dances have created memories that "will remain etched in our hearts forever.”
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Panama is hosting the 34th World Youth Day and Nadine Pereira is one of the participants from India. Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that "our host families welcomed us with open arms” and “we haven’t felt homesick”. In fact, their hosts provided them with a “home away from home”.
Nadine is one of 56 delegates from India who arrived on 15 January. After a long and tiring journey, "we were overwhelmed with the warm welcome that we were given by the members of the [local] community". Now he is Panama City, waiting for Pope Francis to arrive tomorrow.
For him this is the first trip abroad. "We landed in Tocumen airport after 20 hours of flying, and were greeted with a warm welcome,” he said. “From there, we had a four-hour bus journey”.
“We reached Atalaya at midnight. Though it was late and we were tired, we were overwhelmed with the warm welcome that we were given by the members of the community, with music and dance. We were overjoyed. Two Indian delegates were welcomed by each host family.”
The next day, “we gathered at the Basilica of Jesus of Nazareth in the centre of Atalaya. From here, we went to the Church of St Francis in Montana, Santiago. At the Church, we had an informative session on the history of the Church, the style and architecture of the construction and the making of the statues.”
Afterwards, “we went to the Normal Juan D. Arosemena School, the most prestigious school in Santiago.” Eventually, “The day concluded with the Holy Eucharist celebrated in Spanish at the Basilica in Atalaya”.
During their stay in the city, the Indian delegates took part in a number of social and cultural activities. On the second day, they recited the Rosary in the basilica and took part in the Mass in Spanish and English. Afterwards, they visited “a village named El Barrito”, happy to see the residents of “the entire village who were all dressed up in their traditional costumes”.
"I was blessed to witness the various cultures in Panama and also share our Indian cultures with them,” Nadine said. “The Indians and the Panamanians in Atalaya are very similar in nature in the manner in which they treat their guests”.
“The hospitality of the organisers, the volunteers and the parishioners cannot be explained in words,” he noted. “The memories, the families and the friendships that we have made during this visit will remain etched in our hearts forever.”
Rinita Juliana Francis is another Indian delegate. Last Sunday, she saw “pilgrims from various countries gathered in Santiago, at the parish of St John the Evangelist Church, to commemorate the days in diocese.”
Dressed in their traditional costumes, “Hundreds of pilgrims waved their national flags and danced to the beat of the drums played by Panamanian soldiers. As the evening progressed, pilgrims sang songs of praise and worship and danced to music from the Mauritius, Colombia, Brazil, Honduras, Mexico, India” with participants from “each nation putting on a grand show”.
The experience was “a dream come true,” said the young woman. “I feel extremely grateful [. . .]. I am sure that all pilgrims, despite our different ethnicities and nationalities, have been left with our faith deepened and a feeling of fellowship and joy.”
For her, Panamanians are a “hospitable, emotional and generous people”. They are “united and hold great pride in the culture and traditions”, especially Spanish music. “The way the singers and the people participate in the Holy Eucharist is amazing.” (NC)