Thousands of people of all religions and regions offer prayers
PHIRANGIPURAM (GUNTUR DT.): Never mind the arduous trek of over a 1,000 steps in sweltering heat to reach the top of the hill, never mind the surging crowds clambering to reach the top of the hill and never mind the commotion.
As one stood on the hill of Our Lady of Lourdes located above 675 feet, one could witness a sea of humanity united in their faith and devotion to Mother Mary on the last day of Carmel Matha festivities in the town on Thursday.
The festivities, also called ‘Konda Meeda Panduga’ in local parlance, had been marked by profound faith and fascinating festivity with people of all religions and regions converging to offer their prayers.
Overlooking the hill, stands a massive Gothic structure, Infant Jesus Cathedral built in 1893. The Mother Mary Chapel on the hill was built in 1875 by Fr. Dickman and Raja Nadar.
The festivities were one among the three major festivals in this region, including the Gunadala Mary Matha festival and Sagar Matha festival.
The town was steeped in rich Christian missionary history being the earliest centre of Roman Catholicism in the State and the seat of Guntur Diocese. It was also renowned for its pluralistic nature and the festival is celebrated by people of all religions.
The festivities here began on Tuesday and ended on Thursday, the highlight of the last day being celebration of Mother Mary shrine by taking Mother Mary in a procession on the hill.
The devotees vied with each other to touch her with veneration, mothers placed the infants at her feet and others placed candles at her feet. On Tuesday, parish priest G. Marreddy explained about the significance of the festival.
At the final mass, the priest spoke on faith and repentance and called upon the devotees to lead a holy life. The people who squatted on the rocky dome unmindful of the heat, listened in rapt attention and women covered their heads. Amid chanting of hymns, the procession commenced.
Overlooking the dais, the Mother Mary shrine was brimming with devotees offering prayers, lighting candles and in the backward, a few devotees had their heads tonsured.