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By March 29, 2024Mumbai News
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(Pics & News: Rons Bantwal)

Mumbai, March.29: Thousands Undertake The CSF Walking Pilgrimage to Pray for India Sacred Heart Church 9.30 am to St. Charles Convent 2.30 p.m.

The musical enactment of The Live Stations of the Cross Service on Good Friday Walking Pilgrimage begins from Sacred Heart Church, Santacruz West at 10 am and moved on through the streets of Santacruz East, Vakola and Kalina in suburbs. Thousands of Christians undertake an arduous walking pilgrimage, in a public gesture of prayer, penance, fasting, sacrifice and forgiveness for the following prayer points Our Country & Our Leaders, Safe, Free & Fair Elections, Persecutors & Persecuted.

“The intention was to offer a Christian response of prayer and deny one to invoke blessings and move divine providence when human intervention and efforts have failed. It was also what Jesus did on the first Good Friday, when he said, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’ about his persecutors. Thousands of walking pilgrims gave up praying in the comforts of the church & undertook an exhausting arduous walk in the scorching heat. This is a public display by Christians who are as Indian as any of the other citizens who are grieved and want to be treated on par as other citizens”, said Joseph Dias, general secretary of the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), the activist community NGO that organized the march.

The highlight of the program is the musical enactment on the streets at various places of Jesus’ torture and crucifixion, which was viewed by thousands of bystanders. This is the 35th year since it started with a break only during the COVID pandemic. It began from Sacred Heart Church in Santacruz West at 10 am on Good Friday morning and continues through most part of the day, concluding at St. Charles Convent in Vakola at around 4 pm in the evening. Along the way at various stops over the almost 5 Km route, activists dramatize incidents, believed to have happened when Jesus was killed over 2000 year ago. Thousands of passer-byes witness the Calvary (place where Jesus was crucified) Story, with biblical characters acting out the arrest, crucifixion and the last few hours before Jesus’ death.

Similar enactments are known to happen in the Philippines and Latin America, with a couple of Christians actually being nailed to a cross, to experience in a small way Jesus’ suffering. Joseph Dias informed that the enactment through the lanes of suburban Mumbai was similar to those in the Philippines, leading up to a tearful finale. Many of the pilgrims went bare feet during the walking pilgrimage, which culminated a fulfilling spiritual experience of 40 days of prayer, fasting and repentance. The pilgrims, hundreds of who were from different parts of India braved the scorching heat, most of them fasting and praying until the religious service called the Stations of the Cross ended. It featured scenes like the arrest of Jesus, Jesus being sentenced by Pontius Pilate, the falls of Jesus, Jesus meeting the women of Jerusalem, his mother and disciples at the cross, Veronica wiping the face of Jesus… And of course His Passion, Suffering & Resurrection.

Joseph Dias added that “initially it started since many non-Christians believed that Good Friday was a feast, rather than a day of solemn mourning and quiet introspection. We then added a message and prayer points as Gandhi ji or Lokmanya Tilak did to communicate with the masses at a time, but in a Christian prayerful manner. The ‘Way of the Cross’ devotion or Walk with Jesus which relates the suffering of Christ to modern-day living. Many children, women, priests and nuns join in to partake in the portrayal of the torture and killing of Jesus, enacted through a musical played out on the streets.

The pilgrims stand still for a special prayer at 3 pm, believed to be the time, when Jesus died or the moment of grace to pray for these intentions and themes. They now look forward to a new hope, that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter Sunday brings, which was also enacted, since Christians believe that the crucifixion in not the end, but ushers in a new beginning.

One Comment

  • Wilson D'Souza says:

    Thanks for sharing…it’s the really nice and meaningful live way of the Cross…Many year’s back twice I participated and I experienced and felt it. After seeing the images my memories recollect once again..Thanks and his Team.. God bless you all..

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