Church bell tolls for Kash­mir af­ter 50 years

The Bri­tish-era church lost its orig­i­nal bell in an ar­son at­tack and was not re­placed

Gulf News - - India -

For the first time in five decades, a church bell rang on Sun­day at the largest Catholic church in the main city of In­dia-ad­min­is­tered Kash­mir.

Mem­bers of Srinagar’s tiny Chris­tian com­mu­nity as­sem­bled at the 120-year-old Holy Fam­ily Catholic Church and cel­e­brated the in­stal­la­tion of the new bell, weigh­ing 105 kilo­grams.

The Bri­tish-era church lost its orig­i­nal bell 50 years ago in an ar­son at­tack. Ac­cord­ing to church of­fi­cials, the church and its bel­fry were dam­aged in the at­tack by pro­test­ers demon­strat­ing against Mideast war.

The bell was badly dam­aged and ren­dered use­less in the the 1967 in­ci­dent, said Syd­ney Rath, a lo­cal Chris­tian mem­ber of the church.

He said the bell was not in­stalled all th­ese years be­cause “the com­mu­nity didn’t have enough re­sources to or­der a new bell af­ter its dam­age”.

Rath said one of the roughly 30 Chris­tian fam­i­lies liv­ing in Srinagar do­nated the bell.

Peo­ple from other faiths, in­clud­ing Mus­lims and Hin­dus, also par­tic­i­pated in the event on Sun­day.

‘We are one’

The Rev­erend Roy Matthews, the church’s pastor, said the in­ter-faith cer­e­mony re­flected the tra­di­tional “com­pos­ite cul­ture” of Kash­mir.

“So the mes­sage is loud and clear that we all are one, no mat­ter what­ever faith, per­sua­sion you have, but ba­si­cally we are all hu­man be­ings,” Matthews said.


An old bell that was re­moved is seen in the fore­ground as peo­ple from var­i­ous faiths ring the new bell at the Holy Fam­ily Catholic Church in Srinagar on Sun­day.

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