Via Dolorosa in a Gurgaon Village

This well-written feature by Sharad Kohli of the Times news network is our pick of the week. Editor.

The Passion of Christ paints a picture of his last days, of the path he took to Calvary, a path strewn with sorrow and suffering. Looking upon a world wracked by injustice and iniquity, one might be tempted to ask whether Jesus Christ’s life and the teachings of Christianity have fallen on deaf ears.

The ‘Way of the Cross’, also known as the ‘Stations of the Cross’ (or ‘Via Dolorosa’), refers to 14 images (‘stations’) that portray Christ on the day of his crucifixion, from the time he is condemned to death, to the time he is entombed. It’s a final passage, marked by a series of prayers and meditations.

On a day that marks Christ’s final, tortured journey, it was somewhat apt that Good Friday was heralded by a night of thunder and lightning. The morning came invigoratingly cool but soberly overcast, reflecting the occasion’s solemnity and air of contemplation.

Though enactments of the final days of Christ’s life are not uncommon in churches at this time of year, they are less so in these parts. But a small settlement amid Gurgaon’s highrises and high-end residences is home to such a tradition.

Situated in Kanhai, a village of nondescript houses, the red-brick edifice of the Church of Immaculate Conception stands sturdy and impressive, like a sentry protecting the hamlet’s inhabitants. It is here that the ‘Way of the Cross’ begins, a ceremony which quarries every painful sentiment Christ’s crucifixion evokes. These little dramas, passionately enacted by costumed youngsters (‘propped’ by spears, shields and whips), convey the raw reality of the long-long-ago scenes.

The episodes remind those gathered of the suffering Christ underwent, but also that suffering need not be in vain. There is rawness in every detail here, but also compassion amid the agony. There’s Simon of Cyrene, who helps Christ carry his cross, and Veronica, who wipes his face. How the world today could do with considerate touches such as these.

Though “cast off by society (and) put to death by judicial sentence”, the life of Christ offers lessons in love, selflessness and empathy. The prayers this Good Friday exhorted us to “always take the side of the weak” and “enter into true fellowship with the poorest of our brothers and sisters”. In a world where might and muscle seem to overwhelm all, what can be more liberating than to “shatter the bow of the strong and revive the strength of the weak”?

Because the Church of Immaculate Conception abuts houses, the enactment sees residents come out on their balconies to witness the passion play. Believers follow in procession, vicariously reliving Christ’s journey — bloodied but unbowed — to the very end. A very Christian ceremony is embraced by folks of all faiths, where curiosity trumps suspicion. Today, a ‘gaon’ in Gurgaon demonstrated that in times of despair, there is always a ray of hope

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Posted by on April 4, 2015. Filed under Breaking News,COLUMNS,Pick of the week. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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