LETTER from CHRISTA SEVIKA SANGHA, JOBARPAR
It's only two months into this year 2004, and yet we have had four celebrations which were both happy and busy occasions from start to finish.
The first one was on 6 January, the Feast of the Epiphany. All the Brothers and Sisters here felt that we should celebrate, with respect, love and gratitude, the Festival of the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the Epiphany, the living, and those departed, in the Church of the Epiphany.
All the C.S.S. Sisters gathered together in Barisal as our schools were on holiday, while the Brothers were getting ready for the beginning of the new term in the O.M. High School. There was a Holy Communion service in a beautifully decorated Church. Three groups of girls danced behind the Processional Cross, and each group went dancing in front of each Altar as part of the preparation. The Church was packed full out of gratitude, and there were many speeches after the Service, especially one by the ex-Headmaster of the High School, Mr. Santosh Kumar Mazumdher. He came with his wife specially for the Service, though they now live right outside Barisal.
There was a packet breakfast for everyone who came, and happy memories were exchanged. There was only one 'row' - a Committee member had been forgotten, though I had invited his wife! - and so it was soon over, and the day enjoyed by all. Lunch was served on the Fathers' side, and many enjoyed their lunch sitting on the green grass in the winter sun. Later the Jobarpar group returned to Jobarpar with several packets of the morning food for the family of children there.
The second celebration was on 25 January -the day of dedication of our Christa Sevika Sangha. The Brotherhood of St. Paul will be celebrating their day on 30 June. All the Brothers and Sisters at Barisal came 10 Jobarpar for the day. At 3 p.m. there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the 34 years of the C.S.S. Over 300 were present at the Service and at the tea-party that followed. There was a packet of food for each boy and girl present, and for all our neighbours and friends who had come to rejoice with us.
The third celebration was on 1 February, when there was a Confirmation Service at Barisal for the 28 boys and girls who had been prepared Bishop Michael S. Baroi, our Moderator, celebrated, and again the Church of the Epiphany was full. There was a mid-day meal in St. Agnes' Hostel, and a night meal in the Boys' Hostel, attended by us all. In the evening the boys put on a good show, and there were garlands for all the newly-confirmed children. It was the first time I was able to be present, after two years of illness.
The fourth celebration was the 'Big Convention', which after ten years was being held at Jobarpar. It was from the 12th evening to the 15th morning. A huge shamiyana (canopy) was erected on the field by the Parish Church. Three hundred straight bamboos -contributed mostly by individual parishes (one gave 16) were used to raise the shamiyana. There is now an energetic young Parish Priest, the Revd Simson Mazumder, and an equally energetic Parish Secretary of 70, who having recently retired from the Y.M.C.A. were able to lead several young volunteers to help with all the arrangements.
The shamiyana was very big, and I wondered whether half of it would be full; but the 'tom-tom' man, who now goes about in a rickshaw with his 'once-upon-a-time' good microphone, invited all near and far to come, and they did in numbers; there were over 2,000 people present in the shamiyana of all denominations and creeds. There were two preachers in the morning, and two in the afternoon after 3 p.m. Nearly 1,300 people sat down at the mid-day meal in four sittings.
At night there were groups of kirton (singers of religious songs) from different areas- and judging by the peanut shells hidden under mats it looked as if that was what the night meant for most people.
Our (C.S.S.) contribution was on the 14th as we were responsible for that day's morning worship. After Matins in our Chapel we all went to the shamiyana where Sisters soon started the worship with hymns to bring the people together. When it was time, three girls with candles followed the Cross in a slow procession. Behind them there were girls strewing rose-petals and sprinkling rose-water on those gathered together. The Sisters took turns with different parts of the Service - a little different from the usual stereotyped service. It kept everyone absorbed and worshipful.
We had 64 young girls and women in our compound from various Church Hostels in Barisal, Kaligram, Khalishpur (Kulna), and Kanainagar (further south). Manik, the son of one of our 'used-to-be' cooks, is now the Catechist there, and he said that Elizabeth Sardar from his Parish hopes to join us at the end of March, after her Matriculation examinations are over. We look forward to her arrival.
On the day after the Convention there was a mid-day meal for the helpers, and it was good to meet them all again in a more relaxed situation. Everyone enjoyed themselves over a simple fellowship meal. It looks as if the youth of the Church are going to revive it after many years of passivity.
Now it's Lent, and maybe there will be more time and the pace slower. No, there were two more invitations. It's Sports Day at the High School and the band is playing introducing various events now in progress; and on the 29th it is the Primary School's Sports Day.
We are expecting Len Miller and Dr. Christopher Baroi of the Leprosy Mission for a short visit - it looks as if their rickshaw is arriving .
With greetings to you all for a Blessed Holy Week and a very happy and joyful Easter Pray for us - we pray for you.
SUSILA, Mother C.S.S.
Jobarpar/Barisal, February 2004