About 25 thousand people took part in the annual Lenten Walking Pigrimage in the western Indian city of Mumbai in which Catholics, members of other Christian Churches and other religions also participated. A large number of priests, religious, Catholic lay people and members of other confessions and religions participated in the overnight march led by the Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay. The pilgrimage that started at night on March 25 from Cross Maidan, wound its way to the Basilica of Mount Mary some 20 km away the following morning, Sunday, where it concluded with Holy Mass.
Card. Gracias, who is president of India’s Latin-rite bishops, began the pilgrimage with his blessings and reciting prayers to the Virgin, interceding for the city of Mumbai and the whole of India. He prayed in particular for harmony and peaceful coexistence among the different components of Indian society, asking that "Christians in India may live their faith in peace."
More than 50 percent of the participants were boys and girls from remote villages of Goral, Uttan, Vasai Agassi, Korlai, Roha and from the suburbs of Maharashtra. Card. Oswald Gracias wanted to recite a special prayer for the young people: "Mary Seat of Wisdom guide our young people, and direct their steps towards mission, both for the country and for the Church, and intercede for the young people present, to contribute mission of the Church and the growth of the nation. We also pray for our young people for their faith and for their vocational discernment".
The cardinal led the pilgrimage for a short distance, and then reunited with the crowd at the time of recitation of the Holy Rosary. The pilgrims then walked for seven hours at night, animated by prayers, songs and the many volunteers. Felix Sequeira, one of the pilgrimage organizers told AsiaNews: "About 25,000 pilgrims carried four statues in procession decorated with flowers and lights: Mary Queen of Peace, Jesus carrying the Cross, Mary Mother of Sorrows and St. Joseph Patron of the pilgrimage ".
The pilgrimage is held every year in March, during the season of Lent. The first edition took place in the Marian Year 1988, when some devotees have decided to organize a Lenten march for peace. "Since then, the number of participants has grown from year to year with people of every creed and caste" - Francis Fernandes, president Marian Seva Sangh and main organizer, told AsiaNews. (Source: AsiaNews)