418-year-old Bandel Church chooses Mother Earth as Christmas theme this year

"Xmas time Nativity Scene at the Panjim Church in Goa, India."

Vastavam web: The 418-year-old Bandel Church here, one of the oldest in eastern India, has picked the novel cause of caring for Mother Earth as its Christmas theme this year.Bandel Church prior, Salesian Fr T L Francis, said a giant Christmas crib made of bio-degradable and environment-friendly materials depicting the birth of Jesus has been put up for Christmas.Visitors this year would also get to see a rare representation of Jesus as Good Shepherd juxtaposed with Mother Mary holding Jesus in one hand and a lamp in the other, he said.

This year, the Bandel Church, founded in 1599 by the Augustinian monks, is expecting record number of visitors as the X-mas eve is on a Sunday, followed by Christmas on Monday.”Each year, over a lakh visitors cutting across religious beliefs visit the Bandel Church during the Christmas season. It has larger-than-life statues of popular Christian saints like Mother Mary, Mother Teresa, Don Bosco, St Joseph, St Augustine, St Francis Xavier and others.Natural materials like bamboo, jute and moss have been used to construct the crib this year, said Subrata Ganguly of Kolkata-based firm ‘Church Art’, specialising in designing art work for churches, museums and schools in India and abroad.

“We wanted to convey the Christmas spirit through Mother Mary who nurtures and cares for Jesus. The Mother also takes care of the weak and helpless in the creation,” he said.The Bandel Church has recently restored and put back on display a historical ‘mast’, which was damaged during a storm in 2010.