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Casket of Don Bosco permanently placed at Sohra Shrine

By Father Michael Makri sdb
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Shillong, Mar. 7. The sacred relics of Don Bosco arrived at the shrine of St. John Bosco, Cherrapunjee on March 6, marking the end of a long journey that began from Turin nearly a month ago. The Casket, which contains a life-sized replica of Don Bosco's body, is referred to as a 'relic' because it has concealed within it the actual bones of the right hand of the saint.
Banisha Khongsngi joins Larisa Khongsit to testify to another miracle of Don Bosco
The Casket that arrived in Shillong on February 26 was kept for public veneration at Don Bosco Technical School Laitumkhrah. Hundreds of faithful and friends of Don Bosco from all parts of the city, taking advantage of the weeklong stopover of the casket en route to its final destination - Sohra (another name for Cherrapunjee), visited the Casket and showed their love and veneration to the saint.

The picturesque Hill City of Shillong has a special affiliation to Saint John Bosco. It was to Shillong that a group of Salesians came as missionaries nearly a century ago. It proved to be a momentous event in the history of the entire Northeast of India as it forever changed the course of history of the region.

The arrival and presence of Don Bosco's relics in the city received a great deal of attention in the local media of Shillong.

On March 6, the sacred relic was taken in solemn procession to its final resting place - Cherrapunjee, a growing township 54 kilometers Southwest of Shillong, known to the world as 'wettest place on earth' because of the highest rainfall it receives every year.

Cherrapunjee has a shrine dedicated to St. John Bosco. It now becomes the only place in the whole of Asia that houses the casket containing the relics of St. John Bosco.

The convoy, which left Don Bosco Technical School Shillong at 6:00 AM, made two stopovers en route - at Mawjrong and Laitryngew, for veneration of the relic by the faithful. The halt at Mawjrong Parish included the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Fr. James Thyrniang, the Economer of the Province presided over the celebration.

The roaring welcome that Don Bosco received at Sohra was indicative of the strong affection they had for Don Bosco. The songs and slogans of the hundreds that thronged the Casket were drowned in the lusty beating of drums and cymbals, and the chanting of the traditional ''Hoi Kiew'' of the Khasi 'Phawar' led by Father Patrick Nongrang and numerous others dressed in traditional attire. On behalf of the Shrine, Father Roy Anthony, the Parish Priest received the Relics.  Soon followed the concelebrated Holy Eucharist presided over by Father Gervasis K, the former Parish Priest of the Shrine who was also instrumental in getting the relic of Don Bosco assigned to Cherrapunjee. In his homily, Father Paul Olphindro Lyngkot, the Vice Provincial exhorted the faithful to imitate Don Bosco and his outstanding virtues.

After the solemn Holy Eucharist, Banisha Khongsngi, a devotee of Don Bosco gave testimony to a miracle that she received through the intercession of St. John Bosco. Banisha recalled how she was childless even after 10 years of her marriage. She became more desperate when doctors certified that she could not bear children. However, on the advice of her friends she began a special devotion to Don Bosco and Mother Teresa. When the Casket of Don Bosco came to Pynthorumkhrah in 2011, she made it a point to wriggle through the crowd and go right to where the Casket was placed. Placing her hands on the Casket, she earnestly prayed to Don Bosco that she might be blessed with a child. Ten days later, doctors certified she was pregnant! Kong Banisha could not withhold her tears when she informed the gathering that she was now the proud mother of four children!

Another person in focus was Larisa Khongsit, the young girl who was also miraculously healed by Don Bosco when the Casket came to Sohra in 2011. Answering the questions posed by Father Michael Makri, the Media coordinator of the event who arranged a public interview of the young girl, Larisa, shedding tears of joy, said that her dream of once again meeting Don Bosco face to face had now become a reality.

Shortly after the public had paid their respect, the relic was taken inside the shrine where it will remain forever.



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