ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Nirmala Carvalho
Thousands of followers of different religions attended the Satsang Convention, at Matri Dham Ashram, from 11 to 13 November. The rally is now in its 15th edition. Many testimonies of physical and spiritual healing.
Varanasi (AsiaNews) - A large charismatic interfaith convention was held in Varanasi on November 11. It was attended by Hindu sages, a Maulavi (Muslim cleric), and a woman teacher of Jainism. The gathering was intended to deepen the commitment of all towards inter-religious harmony and peace between the faiths. Thousands of the faithful of Christ also gathered at the famous Matri Dham Ashram, in the capital of the Hindu religion from the 11th to November 13th: There have been days full of spirituality, healing, peace and joy. And more, for at this 15th edition of the Satsang Convention many participants gave evidence of physical and mental healing.
The Bishop of Varanasi, Raphy Manjaly, opened the meeting with Father Anil Dev, spiritual leader of the ashram, and Father John Dekka, his assistant together with Mr. Rajan of Jabalpur, and Fr. Devdas Ims of the Mariadham Prayer Centre, Ranchi, as the main preachers. The talks were intended to deepen faith understanding, challenge lifestyles in need of change, because given over to consumerism, to putting God in first place, to repentance and family life. From eight to twelve thousand people attended the convention. More than 400 Catholics came from Bengal in the north, Chattisgarh, Orissa, from Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, from Delhi, from Haryana and many parts of Uttar Pradesh. The vast majority were Hindus of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The second day of the convention there was an interfaith prayer meeting. It had as its theme "Satyam Jayate" (Truth alone wins). The representatives of various faiths have spoken of the need to eradicate falsehoods, greed, selfishness and corruption from the nation. In one voice they stated that in addition to legislation, what is important to root out corruption to change an attitude of selfishness and greed, and build sensitivity towards the needs of others. Father Anil Dev led the different leaders of different faiths to pray like St. Francis of Assisi: "Lord, make me an instrument of peace."
Some of the participants spoke of changes in their life of prayer thanks to the Convention. Urmila Devi from Gillett Bazaar, Varanasi told how her faith, found again, in Jesus Christ has changed her attitude toward her enemies. After marriage, her daughter was abused by her in-laws because of the dowry. After much abuse the poor girl was found dead. Her in-laws were jailed. When they appeared in court, Urmila testified that it was suicide, and they were released. Her actions went against the usual social practice, and this because Jesus led her to abandon all desire for revenge, and to forgive as He forgave his enemies from the cross. Father Subhash, Superior General of the Indian Missionary Society formally closed the convention with the blessing, and passing from hand to hand the 'akhand jyoti (a lamp that burns for several days).