This Sunday, the bell of the Catholic church, located in the heart of Srinagar city, will toll again after 50 years.
The historic event will showcase Kashmir’s pluralistic ethos, as representatives of major faiths — Muslim, Hindu, Sikh along with their Christian brethren will hold the rope together and jointly ring the new bell for the first time since 1967.
“This ceremony is a historic occasion for the microscopic Christian community in Kashmir which has extended this solemn privilege to representatives of all communities acknowledging their love and affection,” said Syndey Rath, of church committee, Catholic church.It will be an apolitical function and will be officiated by Parish priest Fr Roy Matthews.The new bell, weighing about 105 kg is being installed at the Holy Family Catholic Church, Maulana Azad Road, Srinagar.
The British-era church, built in 1896 had lost its original bell when it was set ablaze on June 7, 1967, in an arson incident along with another church.“Though the church was rebuilt a few years later, the bell which in the Christian tradition is rung for a variety of purposes, was not installed,” he said. The new bell was gifted by a Kashmiri Christian family and it will be the largest of its kind in the state.“It is a joyous moment for all of us,” said Fr Roy Matthews.
“Kashmir has a very rich composite culture where harmonious coexistence was the very essence of Kashmiriyat. So I see this in that background that many representatives of various religions coming and joining us in our happiness. At the same time, we want to send a message at the national, international and local level that we are one here and we love and accept each other as they are.”At the Catholic church premises, a group of non-local carpenter and labourers, were busy erecting a podium for the Sunday’s function.