04/01/2019, 15.33
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Christian and Muslim artists to perform for Karachi cathedral windows

by Kamran Chaudhry

The event will be held from 26 to 28 April in the courtyard of the St Patrick Cathedral. Artists will perform for free to raise funds. Over the years the windows have been damaged by bombs and heat.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Christian and Muslim musicians, singers, actors and celebrities from Karachi’s film and music industry have joined the city’s Catholic Archdiocese to restore the crumbling windows of St Patrick’s Cathedral.

According to Fr Mario Rodrigues, rector of St the cathedral, more than 50 stars will perform at the Shamrock Eat & Musical Festival from 26 to 28 April 2019, in the cathedral courtyard, to raise funds for the restoration of the 53 stained-glass windows.

"In the past the church was damaged by some explosions in and around it,” the clergyman told AsiaNews. “The coastal city also has been braving the heat island effect, which causes temperatures to be 5-8 ̊C higher than inland. Many pieces have fallen off from the stained-glass windows."

The Gothic-style building suffered damage in 1987 from Karachi’s first bombings, when two cars were detonated in the area of ​​Saddar, near the cathedral.

In 1998, shrapnel from a bomb explosion inside the cathedral left pockmarks on the walls, holes in windowpanes and some cracks on the 21-metre high ceiling.

During a meeting with the artists last week, Card Joseph Coutts, archbishop of Karachi, called on people to "like" the Shamrock Eat & Musical Festival on its Facebook page.

"I thank all those who have volunteered to work generously towards the noble cause of the cathedral. We must not only work for the building, but also for national harmony. It is all about Pakistan."

Imran Momina, aka Emu, a music producer and member of the Fuzon group, said that the meeting with the cardinal was joyful.

"Musicians from diverse religious backgrounds have coexisted in the port city for a long time. We are trying to involve more like-minded people in this charity project, which will cost tens of millions [of rupees]. It is a constant battle."

Emu, a Muslim, usually earns 500-600,000 rupees (US$ 3,500-US$ 4,250) per gig. On this occasion, he will perform for free to raise funds. "My parents taught me to love everyone. I do not represent any sect."

Ahmed Shah, president of the Karachi Arts Council, promised to plead the cathedral’s case before the federal and provincial governments, to ensure the project is funded and completed within the agreed time.

According to Coke Studio Zoe Viccaji, born to a Christian mother and Parsi father, each artist will perform for 30 to 60 minutes. "We shall spend all our energy. At least, there is a start to preserve the beautiful windows," she said.

Sindh Province declared the cathedral part of the nation’s heritage site. The building I a protected monument under the Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act of 1994.

Last year the archdiocese released a book titled St Patrick's: A Journey of 175 Years to mark the parish’s 175th anniversary.

The Pakistani Post Office also issued two commemorative stamps for the centenary of Karachi cathedral in 1978.

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