KULPI, (South 24 Parganas) – Hindu villagers in Kulpi gave whole hearted cooperation in celebrating Blessed Virgin Mary’s birth day, 8th September in a village some 18 kms south of Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district.
Running into its 8th year, this Marian feast in a rural setting attracts not only 20 Catholic families who live there and their relations from the district, but also Protestants and Hindu devotees who flock to thank Virgin Mary for favours received.
“This year we had 15 devotees who volunteered to celebrate the feast. Last year, at the Marian feast, they pledged, and each one saved one rupee a day to contribute the fixed amount of Rs. 365,” says the parish priest of Diamond Harbour Salesian Fr . Francis Moonnamvayalil under whose jurisdiction falls Kulpi mission.
For next year ten people, including a Hindu, have pledged to contribute for the celebrations.
The feast day committee at the Kulpi mission in Baruipur diocese is comprised of Catholics, Protestants and Hindus.
Mr Sukhen Das, a Hindu head master of the Church run tuition centre in the Church campus is one of the main coordinators getting necessary Police clearance for the Marian procession which covered a distance of about five kilometers through neighbouring villages and Kulpi town.
The organizers also raised funds locally in cash or kind.
“Some people offer us money while others give rice, daal or oil,” says Mr Das who was leading the procession along with the parish priest.
Incidentally, Mr Das too made a pledge the third time to celebrate the feast next year and wore a silver wreath during procession like other devotees who made the vow.
“Mother Mary will bless me with a teaching post in some Government School,” he prays.
Some 1,000 people had kichiri, a local vegetarian preparation, made of rice and vegetables cooked in daal (lentils) with coconut and other ingredients.
All villagers, whether they contributed or not are eligible for a feast day meal. Portions are sent to home-bound people of the village. In fact, no one cooks in the village that evening. Hence, they turn up to participate at the feast.
The feast day devotions lasted four hours starting with the recitation of the Rosary during which three priests were available for confessions, it was followed by the novena prayer to the Virgin Mary. Fr James Mathew from Don Bosco Nitika was the president at the solemn Eucharist celebration along with Fr C.M. Paul, also from Kolkata.Other outstation participants included Missionaries of Charity Sisters Appolin the Superior and Kalpana from Gangarampur (Boys Town).