GAOTHAN VOICE–Mar 2021-Korezma in the Time of Corona

Korezman Coronachi Laat
Tari Zaili Paas ani Khursachi Vaat

Days get challenging in these trying times of the pandemic and for the East Indians, faith gets even stronger. The Community that resides predominantly in the Gaothans has seen the toughest times as they saw this city convert from fields, rivers and forests to becoming the ‘Financial Capital’ of the country. The ancestors always believed in the power of prayer and this great faith created wonders. The signs of this undying faith are seen in the many churches that our community helped build, across Maharashtra, and the grottos and holy crosses that are seen at prominent
spots in the Gaothans.

Easter is incomplete if lent is not observed the East Indian way to purists. Fasting and abstinence is not the only highlight of the East Indian observance of lent. Practices like the Paas on Sundays, Khursachi Vaat at Church as well as to all the local crosses in Gaothans, Papiya singing, Krista Puran and the arrangement during Holy week by Irmous and Confraternity are features that make the typical season of lent. For a community in which faith is embedded, the cancellations of these traditional religious practices during lent was saddening. A lot of these could have been organised but due to various restrictions owing to the pandemic, the community missed it 2 years in a row.

Visits to church for mass and personal prayer has been replaced by a virtual one and the feeling of being in the House of God has been missed. Parishes in the Archdiocese followed their own guidelines as per their comfort without taking the laity into confidence. The Archdiocese released its own guidelines without consulting what people really wanted. While across the world re-opening churches was the priority, in Maharashtra the church was only following the State Government without taking the community at large into confidence. Different churches were following different rules; while several churches devised arrangements to accommodate the faithful, in keeping with the guidelines issued, entry in to some churches was restricted. The Church in Maharashtra had now changed from ‘Fearless’ to a ‘Fearful’ church.

At this point, appreciating some initiatives by a handful of churches is a must. Some parishes kept their churches open throughout the day so that people could visit and pray in these challenging times. Some churches increased the frequency of masses to accommodate as many, and even allowed more attendees ensuring that safety protocols of social distancing were practised. We saw a certain church having a serpentine queue for confessions, since not all parishes in the vicinity were having confessions. Due to local parish restrictions, many of the faithful visited nearby parishes to attend daily mass. The Holy Week arrangements were particularly saddening with many churches
conveniently cancelling all scheduled services and going online totally. A Week of great significance to the East Indian Community that begins with the Ramacha Paas, followed by Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Pasku Cha Sann with special prayers and hymns like Papiyas and Krista Puran, it was a sombre Holy week this year too.

Active community members did not lose hope but created alternatives to ensure as many practices were followed as per tradition. Khursachi Vaat was held at Gaothans, were the faithful visited as many significant holy crosses in the vicinity as possible. Devaats went around singing Papiyas at midnight in their own Gaothans. Irmous and Confraternity in some parishes were allowed to create re-enactments of the passion of our Lord for the weekly Passo service. Family prayer got prominence with daily rosary or stations of the cross. Local groups arranged for ration and
hampers for the needy families. This was a clear indication that we as a community are dedicated to our faith even in these trying times.

Times have changed and so should our minds. Blindly following the religious guidelines may not work as our faith is much stronger. There are vested interests trying their best to block the East Indian Lenten Traditions with support by the BCC Coordinators and this needs to be stopped. Staying safe and following protocols is important but only targeting a silent and peace loving Christian community should not be tolerated. Creating a voice for the laity to speak out against the Government is the need of the hour as our Archdiocese has terribly failed. The Archdiocese
silence can be either due to obedience to the law of land or maybe we are obligated to political leaders. The East Indian community should stand firm and it’s time we speak and shout out as indigenous people. Time for change from a ‘clergy driven’ to ‘laity driven’ church.

Gleason Barretto, Old Kurla

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