Prayer for peace in motherland in Calcutta
A congregation of Christian priests on Saturday expressed “regret” about the violence in Delhi and prayed for “peace to descend on our Motherland India”.
The service, conducted by the Catholic Association of Bengal at Don Bosco Park Circus, prayed that “the rumours and spread of fake news may stop”.
“Lord, we pray for your peace to descend upon our Motherland India. We offer to you all Indians: Give them a sense of fraternity and mutual care so that each one may strive to promote peaceful co-existence,” said the first prayer.
Another prayer said: “As we regret the violence that has struck the capital of our nation, we humbly request you to grant relief and consolation to all the victims of this unfortunate situation. Let your light dawn upon all those who feel wronged. Help those affected to forgive and to be compassionate to the sufferings of others.”
The violence in Delhi has claimed at least 44 lives and left hundreds homeless. A series of provocative speeches by leaders is accused to have started the violence to counter the countrywide protests against the new citizenship matrix.
The citizenship drive is accused of targeting Muslims. But many across minority communities believe they should all feel threatened. The common fear is that India is taking steps towards a becoming a majoritarian state. They fear Muslims are just the first target and Christians, Dalits and other backward classes could be next in line.
The vicar-general of the archdiocese of Calcutta, Father Dominic Gomes, led a prayer that went: “That rumours and spread of fake news may stop: We are grateful to you dear Lord for the many means of communication that we have at our disposal today. We pray that we may use them in a judicious and positive manner…. Let us refrain from spreading rumours, indulging in idle gossip and spreading fake news.”
The congregation sang the hymn “Living waters flow on” and a line from the hymn was: “People knocking at my door/Strangers seeking love and care/Never let me turn them down/Show me gently how to share.”
Father Rodney Borneo, a priest at the Archdiocese of Calcutta, conducted the service. He said at the start: “Let us all thank God for uniting us all in one human family. This evening we have gathered here without any difference, difference of faith, difference of gender, difference of religion, difference that is caused by economic standards or nationalities. We come as souls. People are able to label bodies but how can one label the soul?”
The prayer was also for inter-religious harmony: “Dear Lord, we know that you accept and welcome all those who seek you with a true heart. Illumine our minds that all religious leaders and their followers may stop the spread of hatred and intolerance. Let all reach the core of every religion, which is to love unconditionally just as you have loved all of humanity without any conditions. Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbours from helping one another.”
The gathering consisted of teachers, students and homemakers and most of them sat on the floor and prayed at “a time of prayer for our country & our leaders”.
“There has been so much of unrest in our country and religion is being used to meet vested interests. Some people think that by what is affecting in our country only minorities will be affected but it will affect everyone. We are praying today to be one and be together,” said Angelina Mantosh Jasnani of the Catholic Association of Bengal.
There was a prayer for “the well being of all the people” of Calcutta. “Dear Lord, we thank you for the gift of life given to every person of our city…. Our city is blessed to be an island of peace, harmony and love. May our lives continue to be an example to others that you have made us all one human family.”
Father Devraj Fernandes, a priest at the archdiocese of Calcutta and Father Michael Biswas, youth director of the archdiocese, were among those who led the prayers.