Tuesday, March 1, 2011

cultural tour to Saurastra-- John Paul lobo

Shraddha Parivar spared a whole week for cultural tour to Saurastra. Fr. Aubrey, the dean of Gujarati studies and Dr. Thomas Parmar accompanied 5 linguists. I would not be able to narrate everything, however, I would not be making apt justice, if I do not name a few places of our visit. They are Sarkhej Roza, Lothal, Dholka, Harnej, Bhavnagar lock gate, Palitana, Diu, Veraval, Chorwad, Somanath, Gir forest, Girnar, Porbandar, Dwarkha, Bet-Dwarkha, Mithapur and Rajkot.

Studies in/of Gujarati language, culture and its people are incomplete without being exposed and then experienced and interiorized the core of the cultural and religious heritage. Truly, this journey towards the faith gave us informative and in-depth knowledge of variety of things. Prior to the tour, we had a well-nurtured one week course on the ‘history and the cultures of Gujarat’, lectured by Dr. Thomas Parmar.

Much of what we saw, heard, experienced and felt is an experience of heart and mind. Each place was filled with the grandeur of divine beauty and conveyed a unique message of service to humanity and peace. Personally, I was amazed at the adventures people have been undertaking since centuries, believing in the welfare of self and others, despite heightened commercialization at temples and other monuments. I am fortunate to have listened to a number of people from different religious traditions sharing unique experiences. Vibrating spiritual presence helped me personally (in a few places) to delve deeply into myself and experience the spiritual joy. Is not every authentic prayer influenced by spirit? The spirit which is mysteriously present in every heart prays with an unutterable groaning.

The whole journey, especially our stay, was a grace-filled moment as we came to know more about religious congregations who are serving Jesus in his people. We are indebted to the royal treatment, hospitality and generosity we received from priests, brothers and religious sisters all through our journey. Thank you so much.

We utilized and savored the time for community-building as we came to know a bit more about each one. We feel energized, spiritually strengthened and renewed and culturally rich, after a fruitful and bone-jarring 6-days journey. Our hearts and minds are schooled and life continues to teach lessons always.

I strongly believe that other companions of mine too had a very rational and spiritual experience. It is time now to cudgel our creative minds, as it is the last phase of official language study.

John Paul Lobo

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