Bandhutva Programme Must Become a Government Initiative: Speaker U T Khader at Bishop’s Christmas Gathering
MANGALURU, DEC 30: Amidst the festive atmosphere of Christmas, the Bishop’s House in Mangalore became a beacon of unity and peace on December 30, 2023, as Most Rev. Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, the Bishop of Mangalore, hosted a gathering that brought together government officials, community leaders, and diverse representatives to champion peace in a world gripped by turmoil.
In his welcome address, Bishop Peter Paul said, “In a world torn by conflict, the birth of Jesus heralded peace. His life, teachings, and the legacy of forgiveness he left behind are the essence of peace. Mahatma Gandhi, inspired by Jesus, lived a life of forgiveness and peace. When forgiveness springs forth from us, we become harbingers of peace.”
Mr UT Khader, Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, Government officials Mr Mullai Muhilan, IAS, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anupam Agarwal, IPS, Commissioner of Police, Mrs Vinitha Shekar, IRS, Commissioner of Customs, Shri Raghuramananda, Shri Ram Krishna Mission Society, Mr Keshava Narayana Reddy, Commissioner of Central Tax, GST, Mr S Rangarajan, IRS, Income Tax, were the guests of honour at the Bandhutva celebration.
All the dignitaries acknowledged the urgency of fostering unity and harmony and pledged to embody the noble ideals of reconciliation advocated by Jesus and echoed in Gandhi’s philosophy.
Most Rev. Hemachandra Kumar, Bishop of CSI, graced the celebration with his opening prayer. The dignitaries celebrated Christmas and shared the joy by slicing the cake.
Political leaders, including MLC Boje Gowda, MLC Harish Kumar, Manjeshwar MLA AK Ashraf, Ex-MLA J R Lobo, Ex-MLC Ivan D Souza, Mithun Rai, luminaries of public administration, city corporators, officers from various departments, religious leaders, and heads of Christian institutions, were present.
IAS Mullai Muhilan praised the contributions of the Mangalore Christian Community to the uniqueness of Mangalore. He said, “Mangalore is distinctive due to the Christian Community’s unique identity. Mangaloreans have forged their distinctiveness and made significant contributions across education, health, and social services.” He stressed the importance of “forgiving, forgetting, and moving ahead with renewed hope,” expressing gratitude for being part of Mangalore.
Mr Anupam Agarwal, the Police Commissioner wishing for peace in Mangalore, said, “Though we can’t forgive crime in the police department, we aim to reform individuals and lower crime rates. I pray daily for societal peace. Those present here are blessed with influential roles to do good in society. I wish you all a peaceful New Year 2024.
Mrs Vinitha Shekhar, Commissioner of Customs, expressed her sense of belonging in Mangalore and praised the inclusive spirit of Christmas, a festival celebrated by all. She said, “I feel at home in Mangalore” and commended the Christian community’s contributions to health and education.
Addressing the gathering, Speaker U T Khader highlighted, “The Christian community’s contributions to society are immense. Father Muller’s pioneering work with leprosy and TB patients a century ago was pivotal. Encouraging unity, Bandhutva fosters strong bonds and becomes the pillar of community strength. My childhood memories of attending Bishop’s Christmas events with my father resonate deeply. Bandhutva needs to be celebrated across districts under the DC’s guidance and extended to every gram panchayat level to foster stronger community ties. I strongly advocate that Bandhutva evolves into a government program.”
The event buzzed with cultural presentations, from multilingual Christmas carols by Father Muller staff and Nursing students to vibrant dance performances. Fr Rupesh Madtha, Editor of Raknno, enlivened the gathering with engaging games. Rev. Dr J.B. Saldanha, PRO, extended gratitude, while Bishop Peters led a prayer before the meal. Mrs Vivid Dsouza compered the program. The PR team, headed by Mr Roy Castelino, coordinated the program.
‘Bandhutva,’ Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha’s hallmark program, aims to foster interfaith bonds, promoting peace, harmony, and brotherhood among diverse religious communities.
Report and Pics by: Fr Anil Fernandes, Canara Communication Centre