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Catholics and Hindus share church in Trinidad and Tobago on Good Friday

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Picture credit: Dr Kumar Mahabir
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By Yajush Gupta

An interesting phenomenon of religious intersection occurring only in Trinidad & Tobago.

On Good Friday, Roman Catholics share their church with thousands of Hindus who pay homage to the dark-skinned wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, who Hindus worship as Mother Kali.

  • Trinidad is the largest island in the nation of Trinidad and Tobago, off Venezuela’s coast in the southern Caribbean.
  • According to the 2011 population census report, Roman Catholics constitute the largest religious group (22%) in the multi-ethnic society. Hindus constitute the second largest (18%) in a population of 1.3 million persons.
  • On last Good Friday, hundreds headed to Siparia for the Feast of Soparee Mai, an annual Good Friday celebration involving both Roman Catholics and Hindus.

Anthropologist Dr Kumar Mahabir recently presented a research paper on this phenomenon that has been taking place every Good Friday for over 140 years in the Roman Catholic church in Siparia in South Trinidad. Mahabir’s paper was entitled “Virgin Mary as Mother Kali: The Intersections between the Hindu Mother Kali and the Black Madonnas in Catholic Churches in Trinidad and Beyond”.

The paper was presented at an international conference themed “Turning Tides: Caribbean Intersections in the Americas and Beyond.” The conference was held on February 18 to 20 at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine. It was organised by The UWI and Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA.

Dr Mahabir notes in an article that appeared in a news paper at in Trinidad and Tobago: “For the past decade, there has been the appearance of a poojari of the Kali-Mai Hindu sect in the church grounds. He collects donations from worshippers for the intent purpose of doing ceremonial worship for the protection of his village from sickness and natural disasters.”

He adds: “The figure of this poojari (Hindu priest), dark-skinned and dressed in white, jharying (stroking) with knife and neem branch those who seek his blessings, substantiates the conception that Hindus perceive this Divine Shepherdess to be Mother Kali.”

Report prepared by Yajush Gupta. Twitter :@yajush_gupta

 

 

 

 

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The Church And Priests Should Go Online: Vatican Experts

We had to learn to listen to younger people who live in that [digital] environment, and to understand from them what they find helpful and supportive

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Monsignor Paul Tighe from the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications talks to the Associated Press during an interview. VOA

Priests should get online if they want to connect with people who may no longer attend church but can still be reached via social media, the Vatican’s digital expert said Tuesday.

Monsignor Paul Tighe, who helped develop Pope Francis’ online presence, urged Catholic clergy across the world to embrace social media to reach believers and nonbelievers.

Facebook, data, social media, church
A Facebook start page is shown on a smartphone in Surfside, Florida. Aug. 21, 2018. VOA

“Young people are, unfortunately, less present in our churches,” Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told Reuters at a technology conference in Lisbon.

“Social media is a mechanism that allows us to engage in conversations, to engage with people who otherwise would never come across us and who we are.”

Pope Francis has nearly 18 million Twitter followers and his posts are widely shared, but not all church leaders are following his example, Tighe said.

“In the beginning, some Catholics said social media was nasty and that we should stay out of it,” he said.

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Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) blessing at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Apr. 1, 2018. VOA

“We have been trying to convince them that the digital arena is a hugely significant part of people’s lives.

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“We had to learn to listen to younger people who live in that [digital] environment, and to understand from them what they find helpful and supportive.”

It was the Irish bishop’s second year at the annual Web Summit — Europe’s biggest technology conference, which this year brought together 70,000 entrepreneurs and guests, including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (VOA)