Week of prayer and mourning for Mumbai's Christians

The past week has for Mumbai's Christians been one of lighting candles and expressing solidarity with the victims of the last week's terror attacks.

Among the Christian groups reaching out to help the city heal was the prominent St Xavier's college, which held a special memorial prayer service on Thursday.

Father Frazer Mascrenhas, the college principal, sought forgiveness for the terrorists and prayed for the victims of the attacks, which were carried out on 10 locations across the city, including two luxury hotels, a restaurant popular with tourists, the main railway station, and a hospital. A total of 188 people died.

“These people [the victims] were closely related to the college,” he said. “They laid down their lives so that we can live today.”

The memorial prayer service included prayers from weeping students, hymns and a rendition of the patriotic song Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo (O! the people of my motherland!), which left many in tears.

The packed auditorium especially paid tribute to former student of St Xavier's and one of 14 slain police officers, ACP Ashok Kamte.

Earlier in the week, Delhi Archdiocese organised an interreligious prayer programme outside its Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi. About 200 Buddhists, Bahai followers, Christians and Muslims attended the programme with religious leaders reading from their respective Scriptures and praying for peace and stability.

Dr John Dayal, the All India Christian Council (aicc) Secretary General, said, “No cause, however urgent or great, can explain or excuse such wanton bloodshed of innocents. We pray for peace to the families of the dead and for healing of the injured.

"The common trauma during three days of unfolding tragedy brought various nationalities, communities, and faiths closer together in a shared pain."

He continued: "The AICC expresses the gratitude of the Christian community to Indian civil society, which stood by it even as the civil administration of Orissa and the centre failed entirely in August and allowed the violence to continue for three months."

Dr Dayal paid tribute to the "brave soldiers, firemen and many unsung civilians who risked their lives so that others could live and the siege of a metropolis could end".