Seven Church Walk, Good Friday, Kolkata (Calcutta)
Seven Church Walk
Good Friday, Kolkata (Calcutta)
The lady carried the cross along the, tram tracks of, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road. She walked bare feat and had anklets and toe rings in her feet.
A Bengali Christian she had the sindoor (vermilion) at the parting of her hair, a symbol of married Hindu women.
This is probably the true cosmopolitan nature of Kolkata (Calcutta) and the lady was part of the seven church walk.
The roots of the seven church walk dates back to 16th century Rome, when St. Philip Neri and his friends would visit the seven Basilicas (four major and three minor) of Rome.
Today the lenten tradition is part of the Good Friday rituals for Roman Catholic Christians all over the world.
Calcutta (Kolkata) is no exception and seven church walk is an integral part of the Good Friday morning rituals in the city.
Today almost every Roman Catholic Church in Kolkata (Calcutta) comes up with its own seven church walk. Any seven church can be selected but normally neighborhood to keep the route compact.
The Churches range from big ones, with lofty spires, to quiet little shrines inside schools and even private residences.
It is not necessary that the seven church walk is organized by a church, individuals along with a few friends and family members also do the walk of their own seven church.
The walk continues with the singing of hymns and saying of the rosary. Many walkers prefer walk bare foot.
The seven church walk is observed as a symbol of mourning, suffering and fast.
I decided to join the Seven Church Walk of the St. Teresa’s Church in Moulali. The red coloured Church with its twin spires, was built in 1897.
The walk started sharp at 7:00 am. The walk was lead by group of young men who took turns in carrying the huge cross. The black coloured cross had the message “INRI I THRST.”
They were closely followed by group of young boys and girls, dressed in bright purple tunics.
The group leader carried a decorative crucifix, mounted on a pole. He was flanked on both sides by two candle bearers, who carried candle in decorative candle stands.
Last in the pack were the other members of St. Teresa’s Church, who sang hymns over the mega phone and carried small crosses attached to chains and beads.
The group marched south wards along the AJC Bose Road and the first stop was Nirmala Sishu Bhavan, a unit of the Missionaries of Charity.
After a small prayer service in the courtyard of the Nirmala Sishu Bhaban, the group continued south wards along the AJC Bose Road.
Next stop was the Convent of Our Lady of Providence, a girl school established in 1947.
Here also, after a short prayer service in the small courtyard of the school the group headed further south wards towards the Mother’s House.
Mother’s House, the head quarters of Missionaries of Charity, also houses the tomb of Mother Teresa. They place was very crowded as another group of seven church walkers have already made their way inside the mothers house.
After a brief wait the group from St. Teresa’s Church finally made their way to the interiors of the Mother’s House.
Here also a brief service was held in front of Mother Teresa’s tomb and the group was all set to hit the road again.
The group continued further south and took a right turn and followed the Ripon Street.
Here also the group came across another group of seven church walkers, who was also heading for the St. Mary’s School on Ripon Street.
The two groups made they way through the chaotic traffic of the Ripon Street. It was a long wait outside the St. Mary’s School as the other group continued with their service inside the school.
Finally it was time for the St. Teresa’s Church group and they made it to the large auditorium of the St. Mary’s School.
They prayer service was soon complete and they headed for the Loreto Day School, Elliot Road.
At the Loreto Day School, Eliot Road, the prayer services were at the basketball court. Soon it was time to hit the road for the final time.
The group retraced their steps to the Rippon Street and turned left towards the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road.
At the junction it was right turn and the group from St. Teresa’s Church headed north towards the seventh and last church, Prabhu Jishu Girja, located next to the Wellesley Square (Haji Md. Mohsin Square).
It was at this point the lady picked up the cross and walked bare feet along the tram tracks of Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road.
She lead the group to the last and final destination of the Prabhu Jishu Girja. Prabhu Jishu Girja was jam packed with devotes as it was a common point for several seven church walk groups.
Prabhu Jishu Girja was the end point of several seven church walks, both for organized groups and individuals. Snacks and water was offered to the walkers and visitors.
The final prayer service was held inside the Prabhu Jishu Girja and finally it was time for a group photo of the seven church walk group from St. Teresa’s Church.