ASIA/BANGLADESH - Towards Easter, with faith and charity

Tuesday, 26 March 2024 easter   faith   caritas   charity   dialogue  

Dhaka (Agenzia Fides) - In Bangladesh, Catholics are living Holy Week with deep spirituality and as a special time of conversion and reception of divine grace. "Although Easter is not a national holiday in Bangladesh, a largely Islamic nation, offices and shops usually remain open. However, Christians have a special dispensation and can celebrate the holiday without having to go to work. This year "thanks to favorable weather conditions and a more stable political situation after the elections, the situation seems calm. We are preparing to celebrate Easter with serenity and under the grace of God," said to Fides Father Robert Hadima, priest of the diocese of Mymensingh.
"During the rites of Holy Week, the churches are full of faithful he adds. People come to confess to receive God's mercy and embrace new life in Christ. In addition, interreligious participation is observed, with Muslim believers who, out of courtesy and spiritual closeness, attend the liturgy to celebrate the holiday and share greetings," says the priest.
There are many initiatives of testimony and evangelization: "For example, in Mymensingh," he reports, "after the Easter Vigil, young people walk the streets singing hymns and songs, along with the Easter hallelujah. Furthermore, in the villages, on Easter Day, families gather in large groups where they share the Easter meal and the joy of the resurrection".
This occurs, he explains, after having experienced a period of Lent marked by prayer and solidarity. Prodip Palma, a teacher at a school in Dhaka, testifies: "Lent is a special time, I have experienced a journey of conversion", he says. Together with his wife and three children, he participated in the Station of the Cross every Friday in the Catholic church of Tejgaon, inspiring his family to live fasting as a way of getting closer to Christ and his brothers. James Gomes, an NGO employee in the Diocese of Rajshahi, has been saving for more than a month to help a student in need. He says: "Every year during Lent, my wife and I give up eating meat and fish, and donate the money we would have spent to a poor student so that he can pay his exam fees." Arpona Rozario, a 55-year-old seamstress and mother of three, offers discounts to her clients, even non-Christians, as a symbolic gesture "in honor of Jesus Christ". Through her work, Arpona seeks to spread the message of love and sacrifice of Jesus. These testimonies have emerged from a Lenten gathering of Bangladeshi faithful who, in order to prepare spiritually for Easter, gathered in recent days in Gazipur, under the leadership of Archbishop Bejoy N. D'Cruze, OMI. The archbishop has exhorted the faithful to continue using the "weapons" of the Christian, that is, fasting, prayer and charity, "to love God and neighbor", preparing their hearts "to welcome Jesus Christ who gives new life to each one through resurrection". The faith of Bangladeshi Catholics is not separated from their charitable commitment: many volunteers joined the Caritas Lenten campaign called "Teg O Sbeha Abhijan" ("Sacrifice and Service"), which has run throughout Lent and will last until the May 31st, with the participation of all the dioceses. The initiative has promoted fundraising and humanitarian assistance among families, both Christian and non-Christian, to then benefit those most in need through development, education or medical care programs for children and the elderly. (PA/FC) (Agenzia Fides, 26/3/2024)