04/08/2010, 00.00
INDIA
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Bhisham, the young Sindh baptized on Easter night

by Nirmala Carvalho
The night of the Easter vigil in the church of S. Anna in Mumbai, a young man was baptised after a journey that began in 1998. His story, and vocation to the priesthood, begin with a mass.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Bhisham Chandiramani is a young entrepreneur of 31 from the region of Sindh. The night of the Easter Vigil he was baptized in the church of St. Anna in St. Anne's Palli in the suburb of Bandra in Mumbai. On his entry into the Church he asked God to become his apostle, to "bring the world the Good News." But his journey of faith began in 1998 when for the first time he accompanied a friend to church.

He tells his story: "Entering the church of St. Anna, that first time, was totally unexpected, almost accidental. Instead of wandering around the neighbourhood waiting for my friend, in fact, I decided to go with him. I attended the function, I was very influenced by the Eucharist, I listened carefully to the Scriptures and the Gospel, I was  attracted to their teachings, I felt a sense of inner peace. I could not understand what was happening, but I certainly felt the presence of God I knew I'd be back the next day. "

The family of Bhisham, all Sindh of Hindu faith, are not fundamentalists: "My parents are not very practicing, but we were still taught prayer and faith. Especially my mother, who brought me and my younger brother to the temple of Hanuman [the monkey-god] every Saturday. But we did not understand what was happening: the bell is struck, offerings were made and nothing else. No reflection, no time together. It was a ritual, nothing more. "

In any case, "my mother taught us the correct values, and has always stressed the difference between right and wrong. Every year, during the Mahashivaratri [the "Great Night of Shiva, one of the most important festivals of Hinduism ed], my father took us on a pilgrimage to the temple of the god. And there I never understood why god, in a fit of rage, could have decapitated his son: where was the compassion and forgiveness of this god? But my father also prayed to the Virgin Mary, and every year we went to the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount to give thanks. "

Bhisham continued to go to Mass, after his first experience in February 1998, almost every day: "Every time I felt peace, and the sermons helped me in everyday life." But one Sunday morning, his father saw him leave the church and he complained to his wife. Who defended her son: "Let him be as he wishes. And he thought, well at least he was not wasting his time on dishonourable activities".   the mother responded in similar tones to relatives who were starting to fear young man’s conversion.

In 2001, Bhisham felt called to serve God for the rest of his life, but his vocation was hampered by the fact that it was not a Catholic and has not yet received the Eucharist. In May the following year, however, he discovered the rosary for the first time by going to evening Mass. Devotion to the Mother of God drew him immediately and he started reciting the Marian prayer. But the same day his father fell seriously ill and Bhisham became even closer to faith. The father died on Christmas Day of that year, in peace.

On 18 December 2003, the young man moved to work in Bahrain. Even there, a Muslim emirate, he built a small altar in his room before which every day he recited the Rosary: "Even when I was very tired, I prayed. I happened to fall asleep even in the middle of my prayers".  He also went to church four days a week, travelling the country in constant heat. In July 2004 he started to wonder what he was doing, so far from home; he did not want to miss the feast of Our Lady of the Mount, 8 September, and so returned home five days earlier.

In May 2006, the old Catholic woman who leads the Rosary in St. Anna moved to Goa, and the community asked Bhisham to lead the prayer. A few months later, with his brother, he opened a clothing store: wanting to make an impression he clearly chose a Christian name "Adam and Eve", and now the boutique is known for its excellent service.

In 2009, the young Hindu took the plunge and decided to start catechism: "But I did not want it to be in St. Anna, where no one knew that I was not Catholic. So I went to a nearby parish: there, the catechist threw me out saying I was late, as classes began in early July and was already at the end of the month. " Saddened, he spoke with another parishioner of St. Anna, who in 2009 led him to the priest. Although August, Bhisham was accepted into catechism.

The young man was thrilled by the class,: "The lessons were enlightening. I am fascinated by the universality of the Church which is everywhere in the world, and the fact that Catholics pray together every day on the planet with the same readings at the Eucharist. The day before my baptism, Holy Saturday, I spent in meditation I prayed asking God to be a worthy member of the chosen people. And I asked him to be faithful to him alone. However, I know that God forgives and is full of compassion for the sinner. "

The call to the priesthood is still alive in the young: "I asked the Lord to become one day, his apostle to bring the Good News to everyone." The mother of Bhisham did not attend the baptism of her son, but has no problem with his conversion. she also signed an agreement for the choice of her son and is ready to put up with the criticism of the family.

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