First communions in Kandhamal (Odisha), land of martyrs
The service took place at the church in Raikia, one of the villages that suffered the most at the hands of Hindu radicals in 2008. For the Bishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Christians are “ready for sacrifice, even death, to bear witness to the King of peace and justice.”
Cuttack-Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) – The children of some Christian parents who experienced sectarian violence in Odisha (Orissa) in 2008, especially in the Kandhamal district, received their first communion last Sunday, solemnity of Christ the King.
The ceremony was held in the church in Raikia in the presence of about 5,000 people from around the area, a sign that the blood of martyrs was not shed in vain.
“I am very happy because my daughter received her first communion today,” said Bonsidhar Pradhan, one of the parents.
"My father was brutally killed in the violence against Christians in 2008,” said Kalpona Digal, one of the girls who received the sacrament. “He would have been very happy to see me receive the Eucharist.”
Mgr John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, led the Mass, co-celebrated by ten priests.
“The people of Kandhamal have suffered persecution, threats, and anguish,” the prelate said. “They were ready for sacrifice, even death, to bear witness to the King of peace and justice.”
“Kings may come and go, but our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, has come and dwelled all over the world. We reveal this King in our behaviour and attitude, as we become faithful subjects to the faithful King.”
The guest of honour at the service was Fr Stephen Alathara, deputy secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), who came to bear witness to the faith of Kandhamal survivors.
“The Church in India is grateful to Kandhamal for its contribution to the universal Church,” he said. “Kandhamal’s faith is truly inspiring for every Christian in the modern era.”
Last Sunday was also the day of collection for the missions. The church in Raikia, the one that paid the highest tribute in terms of human lives during the sectarian violence unleashed by Hindu radicals, raised the highest amount of money: 634,796 rupees (US,850).
In the evening, thousands of people took part in the Eucharistic procession that crossed the city.