इंडियन आवाज़     25 Sep 2023 09:04:58      انڈین آواز

Muslim leads Christmas procession



AMBIKA KALNA (WEST BENGAL): A Muslim has been leading a Christmas procession in a predominantly tribal Catholic parish in eastern India for the past 28 years.

Lalu Mallick, 48, told UCAN, he finds inner peace and happiness when he prepares the Christmas float and leads the procession in the Virgin of the Poor Church, Ambika Kalna, West Bengal.

Mallick, a local butcher, said he started leading the procession after some local youths tried to obstruct it. “I felt the need to intervene and help the procession proceed,” he said.

The procession on Christmas Eve, with ‘live’ representation of the nativity scene, passes through the streets.

Mallick said he also helps the parish priest during major Church feasts and invites his family too to join the celebrations. He said he had to rush from Nagpur, central India, on Dec. 23, to be in time for the procession.

Parish priest Jesuit Father Sebastian Xalxo says Mallick is more active than other parishioners on Dec. 24. Mallick’s generosity is “truly noteworthy, especially when we find it hard to get people to work for the Church,” he added.

According to the priest, Mallick spends the whole day on Dec. 24 in the church. “He directs the traffic on the road during the procession and leads the float,” the priest told ucanews

Parish council member Bernard Mardi says Mallick “knows and understands the significance of this feast for us, and takes part in the event with great devotion.”


According to Mardi, some people from other religion want cordial relations with Catholics, but fear ostracism from their communities. Mallick also prepares biryani (a special preparation of rice and meat) for the priests at Christmas. UCAN

Kandhamal Christmas passes peacefully

By Ajay Kumar Singh

KANDHAMAL: Christians in Kandhamal district of Orissa celebrated Christmas in peace as threats of Hindu rallies were averted. Only one incident marred the occasion when vandals torched a car belonging to a Protestant preacher, parked in premises of a hospital in Phulbani, the district headquarters, on Saturday evening.

“My car was burnt because I had voiced fear and a sense of insecurity among Christians at a peace meeting the district collector convened in view of Christmas,” Reverend Surajan Nayak told UCAN

Despite the low level of violence over Christmas, Nayak says peace still eludes Kandhamal. “We have to continue our struggle for peace and security,” he added.

Churches along main roads celebrated midnight Mass with heavy police security. However, villages where churches were destroyed during the 2008 anti-Christian violence had to abandon their midnight services.

The district also experienced an unprecedented cold snap with temperatures plunging to near freezing. In some places, the police stopped the use of the sound systems in the church premises after 10 p.m., even before services began. Christians in the district had feared violence after a pro-Hindu tribal outfit had called for public rallies to remember a tribal who was killed during Christmas 2007.

The group called off the rallies under pressure from district officials, but held a meeting in Barkhama village where the man was killed while demolishing a church.

Father Manoj Naik, who helps rehabilitate riot victims, said most people celebrated Christmas in fear.

“We never have had police in our churches. What is Christmas if we are forced to celebrate without freedom?” he asked.UCAN


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