On Sunday, September 26, 2010, a unique event took place in our Columban parish of Christ the King, Ba, Fiji. Called the “Dharm Samellan,” it is the annual Mass and religious meeting of the Hindi speaking Catholics of the Archdiocese. In years past, these gatherings were held separately in the three regions of the diocese. Now with falling numbers due to high migration, we have just one gathering, hosted by one of the regions. The regions — Central Eastern (comprising the capital city Suva), the North (Labasa) and the West – take turns each year. The West hosted the gathering this year.
A number of new and hopeful trends are appearing such as the increasingly multicultural nature of the day. Space is given to the other communities of our Archdiocese to sing and share in their own languages. There is an abundance of dancing which brings hilarious screams and participation from the audience. Quite frankly, we have a lot of fun.
The theme of our Samellan this year was “To be a Holy Family in the Community” which was in line with our Archdiocesan Year of the Family. After the Eucharist – Hindi hymns sung mostly, as noted, by the multiracial parish choir — we had a talk from our chief speaker David Krishna on marriage and family life as a Catholic and Indian. Then followed brief skits prepared by the different mandalis (prayer groups) regarding the difficulties faced by modern families – especially that of conflict within, and with neighbors – that offered some ideas to the community through role playing. After lunch, we were entertained by the same mandalis with their dancing and singing. It was touching to see the ease with which young Catholics perform both their own dances and the dances of other cultures. They are literally acting out a new future for this nation, and many of us felt encouraged in what are otherwise uncertain political times.
Although attendance for some of us necessitated a five hour bumpy bus ride in the middle of the night, and another one the same afternoon, we felt blessed and enlivened! May the Holy Family, once themselves refugees in Egypt, help us create a new society where Lazarus of today’s Gospel is poor no longer and harmony among our races stands tall.
Fr. Pat Colgan lives and works in Fiji.