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Don Bosco Amidst Chants, Bhajans, Koran Paat & Hymns in Salesian College, Sonada

By Fr. Jacob Iruppakkattu, SDB
Buddhists at prayer around the relic of Don Bosco
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Kolkata, Jul. 1. Don Bosco was accorded a grand welcome at Salesian College, Sonada on the eve of 29th June, 2011 by the staff, students and the local people.  On the following day, besides the prayer sessions, a special interfaith prayer service and Bosco Night was an unusual package which was offered to the friend of youth. Over 1500 people flocked to receive his blessings, while Mother Nature was true to her nature draped in mist, clouds and rain.
Don Bosco reached Salesian College Sonada gate at 5.30 PM after a three hour ride from Oodlabari. A band of musicians marched in tune as Don Bosco was driven to the college. The emotion laden hosts were at their best, running hither and thither to make Don Bosco feel at home, in a well decorated and beautifully arranged dwelling place.

Around 200 youth from Don Bosco Kalimpong and Don Bosco Malbasey stayed over and participated in all the functions beginning with the evening prayer sessions and films on Don Bosco, which ended at 10.00 PM. The Claretians, Auxilium Sisters, Salesian Co-operators and the Catholics from Gorabari village also participated in the vigil service.

The prayer sessions on the following morning with a meditation by Fr. Thomas Ellicherail, the Provincial set the right tone to the whole day. Later, people from various parishes and sub-stations and school children paid homage to Don Bosco. At 10.30 AM the solemn Eucharist was presided over by Rev. Fr. Felix Baretto, the VG of Darjeeling Diocese, concelebrated by a number of priests from the diocese.  Religious and priests, the faithful from Sonada Parish and its sub-stations spilled over the entire veranda on the ground floor.

Public homage to Don Bosco resumed as the youth from the Youth Centres gathered around Don Bosco. After lunch at 2.00 PM an interfaith prayer service was organized by the alumni of the college, which was the highlight of the day.  Sai devotees, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians chanted and sung for two hours in the presence of Don Bosco.

At 5.30 PM the youth from the Cathedral Parish, Loreto School, St. Michael's School, St. Mary's Parish, Auxilium, Sonada Parish, and Malbasey joined in a choral homage to Don Bosco.  With shouts of ''Don Bosco amar rahe'' ''Don Bosco watch over us'' and interactive sessions, and the familiarity that pervaded, one could feel a close affinity to the style of the traditional get-together that Don Bosco used to organize for his boys.

On the following morning on 1st July, the Eucharist was celebrated at 6.30 AM presided over by Fr. Provincial and concelebrated by Fr. MC Jose, the Economer and twelve other priests.  Introducing the Eucharist Fr. Provincial said, ''It is a joyous moment for us to gather around Don Bosco in this hallowed place, where our Salesian pioneers set foot around 75 years back.  The people of Gorabari had been host to them and we had been experiencing their love and care all through. Don Bosco has now come to this house where numerous Salesians are formed in his spirit and tradition.''  

At 8.30 AM the shouts and songs faded out as the motorcade rolled out into the distance, piercing the mist, braving the rain, while heading for the next destination - Don Bosco Mirik.

The Community members at Salesian College namely, Fr. Tomy Augustine, Fr. Joseph Pauria, Fr. Martin Lakra, Fr. Jagjeevan Tirkey,  Fr. C.J George, Fr. Ujjol Mondol, Fr. K.V James, Fr. Francis Gomes, Fr. Babu Joseph along with all the brothers, were at their best in the organization and execution of the programme, despite a university exam in the fray.

The Salesian Sisters at Kurseong, the Cooperators and the Past Pupils, contributed much to the success of the programme.   Lay staff members namely, Mr. Terence Mukhia and Mr. Nikesh Sapkota made the event truly spiritual, while wrapping it in a cultural garb.
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