Somewhere in Goa....

A small group of Hindus reciting Sanskrit shlokas and praying on Good Friday at Se Cathedral, Old Goa yet again brought to the fore rich cultural tapestry and communal harmony in Goa. Old Goa, as an international tourist and pilgrimage centre, is known for its cultural and linguistic diversity of pilgrims flocking to the old capital. The state also has many examples of its communities praying and celebrating feasts and festivals together, but perhaps not many had known about this unique Good Friday tradition. The group belonging to Swadhyaya Parivar, being followers of Pandurang Shashtri Athavale, started this tradition almost a decade and half ago.

A largely attended Good Friday service at one of Asia's biggest churches with its fa├žade towering 115 feet high starts at 3.30 pm. But the Parivar members professing universal brotherhood gather in the chapel of Miraculous Cross, a little detached from the Cathedral's main body at 3 pm, recite shlokas from the Narayana Upanishads and their prayers. It is a short ceremony before the church services.

The parishioners and the parish priest are positive about the groups' tradition. “This is a shining example of how people lived and should live together,“ Fr Alfred Vaz, parish priest said.

The Parivar members are aware about Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross and his preachings for peace and brotherhood. Jesus has laid down his life in sacrifice to free man from suffering.

“It is God who came down to save us and they want to be part of the community to pray together,“ Vaz said. Many feasts and festivals are examples of Goa's multicultural practices and community participation in religious events.Catholics and Hindus are still known to observe old practices that cut across lines of religions.“The spirit in Goa is not one of antagonism but of fraternal communion,“ Vaz said.

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