KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – In a gesture of solidarity with the grieving population which suffered the tragic death of 93 patients and hospital staff at the Advanced Medical Research Institute (AMRI) Hospital fire in Kolkata in the early hours of 9th December 2011, the Christian community deferred the Christmas celebrations scheduled to start on 12th December on Mother Teresa Sarani (Park Street).
“In view of AMRI fire tragedy and as an expression of our condolences to the victims and the bereaved families, Christmas fest scheduled for 12th December is deferred to 18th December,” said archdiocese of Calcutta Public Relations Officer Fr Dominic Gomes.
Instead, an All Faith Prayer service was held at Allen Park near Mother Teresa statue in memory of the victims from 6 pm to 7 pm.
The programme organized by Archdiocese of Calcutta started off with Mr Augustine Martin leading the congregation singing “Nearer My God to Thee.” It was followed by a brief introduction by Director, Commission for Dialogue & Ecumenism in Calcutta Archdiocese Fr Sunil Rosario.
After a brief Sanskrit invocation by Ramkrishna Mission Swami Narasinghananda of Belur, Udayani Social Service Centre Director Jesuit father Jothi explained the symbolism used in the prayer service.
Starting with the religious heads gathered for the evening, people prayerfully lit 93 candles in memory of the victims of the tragedy.
The children of Missionaries of Charity Sishu Bhavan rendered a song in tribute to the victims.
It was followed by brief prayers by representatives of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu communities.
The Anglo India MLA, Mr Michael Shane Calvert made a prayer on behalf of the Christians, followed by Coadjutor archbishop Thomas D’Souza and a final blessing by archbishop Lucas Sircar SDB.
The evening concluded with a song tribute in Bengali by Mr Dilip Rozario.
Several eminent artists and dignitaries like pop singer Usha Uthup, WB Minority Commission Vice-Chairperson Prof. Maria Fernandes and others joined in silent prayer.
Members of the Catholic Association of Bengal facilitated arrangements at the venue in which some 400 people participated.