Agartala: Tripura’s first Catholic Church located at Mariamnagar, the only Portuguese settlement of the state, is set to have a quiet Christmas this year with a lesser footfall and minimal décor, unlike the previous years.
The Mariamnagar Church assumes great significance for the people of the area. Father Ibraham of the Church said, “This is the first Catholic Mother Church and the Catholic belief had spread all across Tripura from this very Church. Five centuries back, the Portuguese had arrived and settled here. They moved in response to the invitation of the then Tripura king to strengthen their army capacity. At that point of time, there has been no priest in the area. Around 60 odd Portuguese families who were offered settlement still reside in this area.”
Once in a while, priests from the Dhaka diocese used to come and perform religious works. Later, in 1937, the Mariamnagar Church was constructed and Fathers from Don Bosco, Holy Cross extended their support in running it.
Every year, Christmas celebrations become the centre of attraction. However, due to the COVID19 pandemic, only rituals will be arranged for the people this year. The Church, which is believed to be the mother church and the centre point of Agartala diocese, has been hosting a gigantic fair for the last 10 years with colorful lighting, a cultural program known for pulling a huge crowd on the day of Christmas. The Church will be celebrating its silver jubilee in 2021.
MLA Ratan Chakraborty said, “This year we have cancelled the program of Kharchi Mela, the biggest fair of the state. The Durga Chowdhury Para Deepavali Mela was also cancelled. Similarly, on December 25th every year, on the birthday of holy Jesus Christ, we perform a big fair here in Mariamnagar. More than one lakh people mostly from the young age group participate in the fair and share the joy of Christmas with each other. However, after discussing with the locals, the previous committee of the fair and leading personalities of the Christian community, we have decided not to perform the fair this year.”
He added that an invitation has been sent to SDM Sadar requesting him to arrange help for the people of these areas so that Christmas can be celebrated adhering to all the government prescribed norms. “Prayers will be organized with only 50 people inside the Church. The rest 50 will have to wait at the entrance. Volunteers, police and other security arrangements will be made to extend help to the locals.”
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