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"People who walked in darkness found the great light" - Isaiah 9:2

Oli Vizha, the Feast of Light..... Wow! What a fantastic and adorable festival by the Tamil Catholic community in Strasbourg! It was in Saint Antony’s Church auditorium on 26th December 2019 in Strasbourg, where the Parliament, Court and Council of Europe are there. The Feast of light took place in Colmar on 25th December and in Mulhouse on December 29th Sunday.

I am aware of the festivals, Marche de Noël and other activities before Christmas and during Christmas. All these festivals and celebrations are meant to add joy in the hearts of everyone. But Oli Vizha -2019 was exceptional and wonderful because not only it added joy but united people of different nationalities and belief in the name of Oli Vizha. In all these feasts and festivals I could see the roots of Christianity but in the feast of light I found the value of sharing, element of evangelization and handing over the values to the children and to the young by their elders and friends.

The Holy Eucharistic celebration which was well arranged by the liturgical equip began at 15h45. It was precided by Father Sagayamani Raja SMA. Father Joel Hogli Remus and Kalan Francis were the concelebrants. The choir under the leadership of André Arnod and Soucé Adaikalasamy sang both in Tamil and French. Mrs. Arletta Thomas, “delegé de Pastorale de Migrants” was with us. After the mass we had different cultural activities and celebrations in the auditorium.olivizha article

 I was overwhelmed to see the people of different origins like the French, orthodox Christians avec their pastor Reverend Biktor from Egypt, youngsters from Benin and Muslims gathered together in the auditorium. Everybody's eyes were shining like glittering stars and on their faces lot of charm. Their hearts were filled with inner peace, love and joy. The hall was colorful because everywhere there was the touch of Tamil culture and tradition. What an awesome performance of the children!   I was taken up and admired the learning capacity, creativity and the team work of the children. The children, who dressed like angels, holding the light in their hands, with their elders and the religious went in procession to the stage. It seemed as if the angels were leading us to heaven, to another world where we forget our sadness. The whole atmosphere was pleasant, welcoming. Every where I could see the spirit of sharing, peace, joy and love all throughout our presence in the hall. I was surprised to see huge number of TAMIL speaking People in Strasbourg who prepared this evening with such excellent programmes performed by different groups like children, youth and the Legion of Mary.  Persons in charge of cultural activities, people announced the programmes in French as well as in Tamil, programme coordinators and the members of the pastoral council of the Tamil Catholic community in Strasbourg invested lot of time and energy to prepare for this beautiful event.

There were also the religious of Franciscan sisters of Presentation of Mary of Coimbatore. Sister Amutha gave the Christmas message and Sister Vanitha was the time keeper of the debate in which Mrs. Debora Saminadin, Mrs.Jeya Thilaga Nandagopal, Mrs. Gomathi Gabriel and Father Joel took part in it. The theme was “Annai Mariyalin perumaikku Karanam”. Sister Claret and Sister Madeleine also participated in that colorful evening. There were variety of dances including Bharata Natyam, Kolatam and bolly wood dances by children and adults. There were also speeches, tombola, carols, live show of Crib, etc… Mr. Shiam and Honorin the newly married were in charge of Tombola. When the little angel Siena Belli started singing “Couronnée d’Etoile” in her melodious voice, it vibrated every one's heart and there was pin drop silence. Here are the names of the children who participated in Oli Vizha: Flora Reginald, Sagana, Priya, Precila, Angelina, Marie Florian, Marie Angela, Perolin, Rovin, Fabrice, Tharun, Rogan, Mathew, Angelus, Lea, Nila, Gloria, Didiya,Claudia, and Mystica.

olivizha article1As I was watching the programmes, it struck my mind how was it possible to perform so many cultural activities by the kids?  Children were given more importance and priority to bring out their talents to offer their best to baby Jesus and to others who are the image of God. Children are the ones who rocked the stage throughout the programmes. Towards the end the Sancta Claus appeared on the stage, with gifts to all the children.  The community is highly conscious that children are the future of the church and France. They bring light to the darkened world which is diseased by the evil effects like Internet, media, money, injustice and lack of faith in God. This sort of encouragement and special attention for today's younger generation is the need of our time. Already the impact of Christ's values are deeply rooted in these children but it is the responsibility of the family, society and the church to develop it by making them to get involved in different  activities. The credit goes to the Tamil community especially Sumathi Kennedy, Nirupa Prasanna, Jai Thilaga, Anitha Govindaraj, Sofia Danton, Jacqueline Savary, Clara Mudivendar, François Saminadin, Barnabas, Gnanadhikkam, dance master Prasanna, the camera men Prasanna and Jai Mohan …and to all who trained them. In fact, it was an unforgettable and memorable evening. As usual Mr. Kennedy along with his family members did wonderful decoration of the stage and the hall. Daisy Logeswaran, the programme coordinator, Flora Ranganadin and Eujintha Sayinthan collaborated and coordinated well in introducing the programmes both in Tamil and French.

By watching all the programmes, I realised that responsibilities and duties are to be given to right and suitable persons; then they make wonders. It is evident that the preparation for the function started since October till December. It would have been very difficult to gather all people together every Sunday. The efforts taken by the parents and family members are to be highly appreciated for they brought forth fruit.

The dance performed by the Legion of Mary under the leadership of Mrs. Jean d’Arc was very graceful. The song selected for their dance was   "azhagai nirkum yaar ivargal?"  Really these women are so beautiful and graceful for they give their time and energy to announce the Gospel. 

During the intermission, when everyone was happily sharing the snacks and drinks we could see that Jesus was born to unite us and to share what we have because the world changes when we share.

Mr. Pascal Papillon who has great passion for India, for yoga and for the wisdom of India was so much impressed by the mass with Indian culture and the collaboration of the people. Mr. Xavier Debelle who has contact with the interior villages in Dindigul expressed his joy being together with the Tamil community. The Holy Eucharist and the cultural programme made him to say we Tamils have a lot to offer others.

When the cultural events came to an end the people who came from long distances had their dinner, certainly it was Indian food, prepared by Anushia Therese.

I wish to congratulate all those who made the celebration a memorable event. I believe that these are the people of good will on earth (Luke 2:13-14.) who really worked hard to bring a meaningful Christmas celebration and to bring all the people together.  

Glory to God in the highest and peace to the people of good will on earth. 

                      It was a blessed day

                               It was a pleasant evening.     

                                         It was a Shining & Happy night 

                                                                   and

                                 God's light was shining on each one of us. 

By Rev. Sister Amutha FSPM of Wolxheim 

                                                  And

                             Rev. Father Kalan Francis SMA