A religious congregation in Goa, India, sponsored an interfaith celebration of Christmas on Saturday, December 17.
The event dubbed “Sadbhav Christmas” was held at the Pilar Pilgrim Centre in Pilar Goa and was initiated by the Society of Pilar in Goa.
The gathering aimed to foster “interfaith relations and communal harmony,” read a statement released by the congregation.
Omkar Bhatkar, a Mumbai based thespian, brought alive the nativity paintings of Goan Artist Angelo da Fonseca through a live tableau.
“It took me four weeks to source the fabric for costumes and props to exactly mirror the nativity scenes from the paintings, and in training the actors,” said Bhatkar.
The tableau “Silent Night” included youngsters from different faiths.
Maboobi Tasildar, a Muslim student, who played the role of Mary visiting Elizabeth said she was “so happy” that she got a chance to become Mary.
“It was a special moment in my life as not everyone gets a chance to become Mother Mary. I really loved this role and it was a great experience that I experienced in my life,” said the girl.
Subham Sharma, a theater actor who portrayed Joseph, said he “felt blessed to play the character.”
“I felt a sense of purity and serenity on stage. I had not much knowledge about Christianity, but after researching the person of Joseph, I was inspired by his person,” said Sharma.
Vivek Yadav, a Hindu student, said that playing the role of a shepherd “felt that I was actually a shepherd and the scene came alive to me.”
Father Nazareth Fernandes, superior general of the Society of Pilar, said in his message during the occasion that “the coming of Jesus has brought down the mighty from the thrones and raised up the lowly.”
Mukesh Ghatwal, a singer, musician, and composer, sang his composition “Pyari Raat,” a carol composed especially for the occasion.
Swizel Costa along with Prathamesh Chari, Clifton Sequeira, and Aldrich Rodrigues performed the “Babulea,” a carol written and set to music by Father Dominic Alvares.
Bhagyashree Chari, a young classical dancer, performed a prayer dance in Kathak style and led the gathering in prayer.
Father Lawrence Fernandes, director of the Pilar Pilgrim Centre, in his message said “the things we have in common are more important than the things that divide us and when we work together the whole world benefits.”
“It is in this spirit, particularly at Christmas, that we should feel closest together,” said the priest.