Group picture of the cast of the tableau "Silent Night"
Group picture of the cast of the tableau "Silent Night"

Sadbhav Christmas in Goa unifies various faiths

Interfaith Nativity tableau at the Pilar Pilgrim Centre provided a unique experience of Christianity to those of other religions

Sadbhav Christmas, an annual Christmas celebration with members from different faith communities, was held at the Pilar Pilgrim Centre, Pilar, Goa, on December 17, 2022. It was organised by Sadbhav, an endeavour of the Society of Pilar, Goa, for fostering interfaith relations and communal harmony.

Omkar Bhatkar, a Mumbai-based thespian, brought alive the Nativity paintings of Goan Artist Angelo da Fonseca through a live tableau by blending the theatrical power of movement, music and stillness.

“It took me four weeks to source the fabric for costumes and props to mirror exactly the Nativity scenes from the paintings and to train the actors,” said Bhatkar.

Group picture with the dignitaries.
Group picture with the dignitaries.

The tableau titled “Silent Night” included youngsters from different faiths.

Maboobi Tasildar, a Muslim student who depicted Mary visiting Elizabeth, said, “I am so happy that I got a chance to become Mother Mary. It was a special moment in my life, as not everyone gets a chance to become Mother Mary. I loved this role, and it was a great occasion that I experienced in my life.”

Subham Sharma, a theatre artist, portraying Joseph, the husband of Mary, said, “I felt blessed to play the character of Joseph. 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 him.”

Folk dance
Folk dance

Senior advocate Surendra Desai, the chief guest of the evening, said, “I found myself in heaven.” He was referring to his experience of being present for Sadbhav Christmas, an evening of togetherness with a beautiful testimony of diversity and inclusion.

Speaking on the occasion, Rev Fr Nazareth Fernandes, Superior General of the Society of Pilar, said, “The coming of Jesus has brought down the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly. It has overturned the world order and given a new dimension to it.”

Mukesh Ghatwal, a versatile singer, musician and composer sang his composition “Pyari Raat” a carol composed especially for the occasion.

Regina Cunha depicting the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation.
Regina Cunha depicting the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation.

Swizel Costa along with Prathamesh Chari, Clifton Sequeira and Aldrich Rodrigues delivered an excellent rendition of “Babulea”, a carol written and set to music by Fr Dominic Alvares.

At the outset of the programme, Bhagyashree Chari, a young classical dancer, performed a semi-classical prayer dance in kathak style and led the gathering into moments of prayer.

Later, the students of Fr Agnel Hr Sec School, Pilar, Goa, presented “Jezu Zolmola”, a folk dance narrating the birth of Jesus. The song and dance were written and choreographed by Roshan Fatde Gaonkar.

Group picture of the cast of the tableau "Silent Night"
Recipe: Traditional Cocada

Rev Fr 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 the closest together.”

Vaibhavi Walwatkar, Swarnjeet Singh and Meherunnisa Bi Shefi, belonging to the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim faith, respectively, shared their thoughts on the occasion of Sadbhav Christmas.

The entire programme was seamlessly woven by Roshan Fadte Gaonkar and Elaine Coelho who compered the programme.

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