Amidst lively choir performances and dance recitals by students of city-based convent schools, citizens from various sections of society paid rich tributes to the Relic of St. John Bosco – popularly known as Don Bosco - here on Sunday.

Currently on its pilgrimage of 130 countries, the sacred remains of the saint had arrived in the city on July 15 and will remain here till July 19. The relic will leave for Orissa early on July 20.

The relic of St. John Bosco had started its journey from Valdocco in Italy on January 31, 2009. The pilgrimage is also in preparation for Don Bosco's 200th birth anniversary on August 16, 2015.

The atmosphere inside the auditorium of Don Bosco School, Park Circus, where the mortal remains of the saint was kept for his followers to pay homage, was sombre and exuded a sublime aura that mingled with the fragrance of flowers and burning incense sticks.

Hundreds of faithful followers, both young and old, waited patiently in a queue to pay their respects to the saint who lay inside a glass and steel casket at the centre of the dais. While many of them had brought flowers to be placed at the feet of Don Bosco, some simply touched the casket or kissed it.

The casket contains a life-size wax replica of Don Bosco within which is preserved the right forehand of the saint. The Latin words “Da mihi animas caetera tolle” (Give me souls and take away the rest) are inscribed on the reliquary's frame.

Portions of religious scriptures of the seven main religious communities in India – Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh and Zorathastrian – were read out at the congregation that highlighted the universal love and toleration advocated by every religion.

Referring to the recent Mumbai serial blasts as well as the recurrent violence in the north-eastern part of the country, Archbishop of Guwahati Thomas Menaparampil, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by an Italian magazine in recognition of his initiatives to bring peace among ethnic communities in the north east, said that Don Bosco's universal commitment to society should be re-introduced among today's youth to bring about stability.

Following its pilgrimage in the Kolkata province (West Bengal, Bihar and Sikkim) of the Salesian Family, the relic will travel to the provinces of Delhi, Mumbai, Konkan, Karnataka, Hyderabad, Kerala, Tiruchi and Chennai before making its onward journey to Sri Lanka.