Vatican Radio’s Indian programme on Saturday celebrated its 50 years with a Holy Mass followed by a reception at its headquarters in Rome. Jesuit Father Lisbert D’Souza, General Counsellor and Regional Assistant for South Asia here at the Jesuit generalate in Rome, presided over a concelebrated Eucharistic Celebration at the radio’s chapel, May 16, with hymns in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and English languages, the four language programmes of South Asia. Later, at a reception, two Tamil and three Hindi books on programme content were released.
Vatican Radio was born on Feb. 12, 1931, under Pope Pius XI, who had entrusted the great radio pioneer, Guglielmo Marconi to start a radio station for the Holy See. However, what is called the Indian programme today, consisting of Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and English for India, came much later - in 1965 – a year after Blessed Paul VI visited India on the occasion of the International Eucharistic Congress in Bombay in 1964. But 7 years before that, an English programme had been launched in 1958 beaming towards South Asia. It was in 1965 that the Indian Section was officially established with a 10-minute-evening broadcast, twice weekly, in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and English, which over the years and decades became a 20-minute programme each, as today.
There was a fifth programme – Urdu – which began on Oct. 24, 1993, with a 7-minute broadcast entitled, “Darwaza Khula Hai” (The Door is Open), aired on Sundays, with time taken from Hindi. Urdu became a standalone programme in 20013 with a 15-minute programme twice a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays. However, Urdu was suspended in September, 2013.