VIJAYA RANI GIRJA MARIA BUSTY, KALIMPONG – APPROACHING 125 YEARS

                                      Report : ISAAC HAROLD GOMES (Kolkota) 

 

 

 

 

During the Christmas season in December 2014, I went to Kalimpong with members of my family. On 23 December we reached Maria Busty which is about two hours jeep journey from Kalimpong via Pedong. Pedong is a picturesque hamlet surrounded by pine forests, tourist and rock-climbing spots. Almost the entire Sikkim and Darjeeling hills, part of Tibet and Bhutan hills, Kanchenjunga range and other  snowcapped peaks, Darjeeling, Gangtok and Kalimpong towns are visible from this point, especially from Tinchule View Point.
In Maria Busty, Vijaya Rani Girja, is going to celebrate 125 years next year. What an achievement! This  parish was erected in 1891 by Rev. Fr. M. Hervagault who came all the way from France in 1883. Those days, Maria Busty did not have motorable roads.
                                                       
The parish has about 300 families scattered over different sub-centres (Soureni, Benda, Upper and Lower Gairi Gaon, Gerok, Chansing, Kothi Dara, Lingsey, Duka, Ladam, etc). A large percentage of the parishioners are educated, mostly teachers. A few are in police and judicial service. The income is mainly agricultural. Jeep service is the mode of transport which gets affected during monsoon. Maria Busty has an efficient dispensary run by Cluny Sisters. There is no other medical care facility in Maria Busty. The nearest health centre is at Pedong. One has to travel to Kalimpong town to avail of better medical facilities. Maria Busty has St. Mary’s Primary School – run by Cluny Sisters. It also has Kagay Higher Secondary School (Coeducational up to Class XII), the only government high school. Many visitors come to Maria Busty Parish on pollution-free pilgrimage, especially to visit the Grotto built by Rev. Fr. M. Hervagault.
 
                                                Another special attraction is the well-maintained garden of medicinal plants, single-handedly built by Fredrick Rai. Fredrick Sir (B.Sc. B.Ed.) is a Senior Teacher of Kagay High School. Botany is his passion and he spares no pains to collect rare plants. Many people visit him for cure of their ailments with medicinal plants of which he is an authority.
                                                                                                                                                             
 
During Christmas and New Year 2015, there was an exhibition put up by Small Christian Communities (SCC) at Vijaya Rani Girja, Maria Busty. The Parish ground was decorated with beautiful models of the different SCC Units in the area. All the models were hand-made by parishioners of respective SCC Unit, using mainly bamboo – a local product, cloth and straw. A beautifully designed crib caught everybody’s attention. According to Edwin Mukhia who returned after 9 years' stay in Singapore, there are 25 SCC Units now in Vijaya Rani Parish. SCC is doing quite well in Maria Busty (in different villages where the Church is not close by). The activities are monthly meetings in respective clusters, helping out families in various household and in other social activities like marriage, and also in various Parish programmes as decided by Parish Pastoral Council.
 
Maria Busty also has a few Self Help Groups (SHGs). It would be good for SCC Movement, if some income generation activities were integrated with spiritual exercises. Maria Busty parishioners may consider approaching West Bengal Minority Development and Finance Corporation (WBMDFC), Kalimpong Sub-division or Salt Lake Office Kolkata for advice and financial assistance in this regard. WBMDFC has several schemes, especially on Women’s Empowerment.
                                                                                                                                                  
I also witnessed a lovely band of youths who went from to house singing Christmas Carols. The Carol Singers were led by the Head Catechist (called Praachin – seated with great devotion on a blue chair). They sing from their hearts with the minimum of instruments (mainly an acoustic guitar). The inspiration behind all activities is the gentle and humble Fr Don Bosco, the present Parish Priest.
 
                                                  
 
ISAAC HAROLD GOMES
ICPA – KOLKATA

isaacgomes@hotmail.com

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *