Chiang Mai (Agenzia Fides) – “Easter in Thailand falls at the start of the torrid season of new year (Songkran), the beginning of a new cycle of life, a feast, a feast for the elderly and for families ”: Fides was told by Attilio De Battisti, Italian fidei donum missionary in Chiang Mai, as the annual major Christian feast days approach.
The missionary tells us: “In these important weeks we note several significant customs. One of these is the feast of ‘Cedi’ (stupa) little mounds of sand. According to Buddhist tradition at the start of every new year people are asked to bring to the Temple the dust gathered by their sandals during the year. So children, young people and adults walk to the temples with their buckets of sand in order to start the new cycle of time. Everywhere we see heaps of sand marked by a flower or little flag. It is also the custom to re-create in sand copies of the most famous Cedi ”.
“The meaning is clear: at a time when the cycle of history starts anew, when everything is repeated, when new birth marks the spiritual cycle of history, putting things back in place becomes an important gesture. Anything removed is returned, anything disappeared is again visible. This is similar to the Jewish Jubilee” the priest explains.
“Perhaps this feast of Songkran may distract Christians from the rites of Holy Week, but at the same time I am happy that they have found a popular manner of expressing the sense of re-birth” Fr Attilio says. “It is important to reflect on these customs in the light of the Christian faith: to start anew. History lived is not annulled, the hands of the clock are not simply turned back. Quite the contrary. Christians look ahead, aware of their fragility, carrying their dust, but strengthened and renewed by Christ who confirms once again his alliance with his creatures. Jesus does not start again by cancelling the past, instead he assumes the past transforming it . Lost opportunities will not return but Christians receive once again the grace of Christ to enable them to be more confident and generous” concludes the missionary.
(AdB/AP) (10/4/2019 Agenzia Fides)