Incredible India

“Incredible India” is India’s national tourism slogan.   My brother lives there and my parents and I visited him two years ago.

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We traveled in December and as we left the US, I heard, I Want to Wish You a Merry Christmas, playing on the radio.   When we arrived in India, the same song was being broadcast.  Our friend calls those occasions, “hellos from heaven.”  Others call them, “God-incidences,” or “God breaking in.”   Do you have any that you’d like to share?

I used to run a Junior Youth Group at church and one year, I gave the children a handout of how different countries celebrate their Christian holy days.  The picture of the orange, white and green flag indicated the traditions in Goa, India.  The Portuguese brought Christianity to India in the 16th century and faith is expressed in a sweet and simple way.   Micro-buses have signs on the windshield that read…

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The churches are impressive and ornate…

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…and mention of religious celebrations appeared alongside secular stories in the newspaper.

I saw an openness to Christianity, even though only 2.3% of the population (29 million!) is Christian.  One day, we took a swerving taxi ride to St. Francis Xavier’s tomb.   St. Francis was an early Jesuit priest who evangelized India and was en route to China when he died.  His body was later returned to India.  Many people were there  paying honor to a man who cared enough to leave his native Spain and spread the Gospel in India and the Far East.

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India has its problems but it also has a vivacity and joy.  One night, we took a walk after dinner and heard a loud band playing.  I went exploring and found a six piece band, consisting of drums and brass instruments playing.  They encircled a groom and were serenading him.  They were dressed in bright red and yellow costumes and the groom wore a pink headpiece and was sitting atop a white horse.

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The whole party began walking toward the bride.  Additional people joined and there were about twenty five people surrounding the groom.  I had walked ahead and rejoined my family.  My dad enjoyed the procession so much that he joined the dancing and clapping group.  He stayed with them the next few minutes until they reached the awaiting bride.

Menus in India can be comical.  Although many people speak English, there are numerous native dialects.  This shows up in translation.   One menu read; “chili salamander au gratin” and another, “homely chicken.”

In India, I saw the same joy about faith that I’d seen as a lay missionary in Bolivia and on mission in China.  People get excited about their faith: they dance, they sing, they praise and worship God. 

Their enthusiasm for life and God returned home with me.

The joy of the Lord is our strength.”   – Nehemiah 8:11

2 thoughts on “Incredible India”

  1. Lovely, Maeve!!!!! I’m taking a class in spiritual formation from a Catholic priest who wants us to look at the GREAT MYSTERY that God is. We saw the NOVA show on the Hubble Telescope. We’re looking at Icons. So many people meditate on a certain gospel story and though there are similarities in the geometric way they ‘write” the icon, there are wonderful ways that different artists SEE the image. We read a book about Indian spiritual art called Darsan (SEEING). And we’ll visit the Hindu Temple and St. John the Divine (NYC) as part of this class as well as look at the simplicity of Shaker furniture. I’m loving the artistic aspects of thinking about how SPIRIT manifests. Just loved the JOY I felt in your piece. A treat.

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