JERUSALEM—Some 3,000 Catholics from India and Sri Lanka paraded through Jerusalem on Saturday in a march meant to commemorate the challenging journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.
“They are asking God's favor in participating in this march,” Father Srilal Fernando told ALL ISRAEL NEWS. “I would say this is a faith journey where people experience the power of God, the mercy of God, the blessings of God.”
During the five-mile walk from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, the pilgrims – some dressed as the Holy family and many wearing Santa hats – played trumpets, drums and a keyboard, while others hoisted Indian flags.
“As a priest, I like very much this walk up to Bethlehem, to remember how Mother Mary and Joseph went,” he said. “They had a very difficult journey. I'm also reflecting on that, and I'm also participating with a joyful heart.”
Father Fernando said some of the participants even fast on this day.
The Christmas march takes place every December and culminates with a mass at a Bethlehem church. Organized by the Indian Chaplaincy in the Holy Land, the event draws Christians from India and others from Sri Lanka who are living and working in Israel.
Most of the marchers on Saturday were from India (from Konkani and Gujarati) with about 90 from Sri Lanka, according to Fernando.
The Sri Lankan Catholics in Israel number about 200, Fernando said, and have communities in Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth and Tel Aviv. Christmas masses and small gatherings are organized for those who want to participate.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS