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Many faiths join Christian festival
Feast of Saint Lawrence a shining example of Indian interfaith harmonyMuslim women using the holy oil given at the shrine
- Francis Rodrigues, Mangalore
- January 28, 2011
The Shrine of St. Lawrence at Karkal near Mangalore in Karnataka state is more than 200 years old. It traditionally celebrates the three-day feast in the last week of January.
Father Arthur Pereira, the shrineâ€™s present director, says large number of Hindus, Jains and Muslims attended the feast.
â€śThis shrine is known for interreligious harmony despite fundamental attitudes that are prevalent in the present times,â€ť the priest told ucanews.com.
Karnataka is one of the states in India where Hindu militants have targeted Christians over the past few years.
Father Pereira says people forget their religious differences at the shrine. â€śThey become extremely spiritual and emotional. They remove sandals and kiss the ground as a sign of deep devotion,â€ť he said.
People working outside visit the shrine on holidays. â€śWe offer them flowers and holy water near the saintâ€™s statue,â€ť the priest added.
John Dâ€™Silva, a local Catholic lay leader, said people from other religions outnumbered Christians on the third day of the feast. They revere the saint as the â€śgod of Karkala.â€ť
Kishore and Seema Rao, a Hindu couple from Mumbai, said their son regained his health after praying there.
â€śDoctors could not cure him of his problem. But our visit and prayers at this shrine has seen his health improve,â€ť Kishore told ucanews.com.
Raziya, a Muslim woman, has visited the shrine for the past 10 years.
â€śI had a growth on my tongue and a boil on one hand. They disappeared after I promised to light candles at the shrine,â€ť she explained.
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