IFFI clash with St. Xavier feast: GCWU petitions Sonia Gandhi *Protesters condemn government

December 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Catholic, Church, Goa, Goa, India, newsletter-lead

Feast of St Francis Xavier GoaGoa, December 01, 2011: The Goan Catholic Welfare Union (GCWU) has strongly condemned the adamant attitude of government for refusing to re-schedule the closing date of IFFI which is clashing with the Feast of St. Francis Xavier thus playing with the sentiments of the people. We have faxed letters to the Prime Minister of India, Mr Manmohan Singh and the Chairperson of UPA, Sonia Gandhi stated Juino De Souza, President of GCWU.

We have written stating that it is the bounden duty of every government to protect the religious rights of its people and specially of the minority community that is guaranteed under our constitution and it is regretted that the Minister of Information & Broadcasting, (Smt) Ambika Soni and the Chief Minister of Goa, Shri Digambar Kamat are hurting the religious sentiments of not only the Catholic community but entire goan community by holding the closing ceremony of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) currently underway at Goa on the 3rd December 2011 that is coinciding with the feast of St. Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of Goa which is a public holiday declared in his memory.

The letter further states that on this day lakhs devotees of all faiths converge at Old Goa to pay their respects, homage and offer prayers and devotion in honour St Francis Xavier. It is therefore a gross violation of religious rights for the government to have IFFI closing ceremony sponsored by the Central government on this holiday with gala dinners and fireworks and is an insult and attack on the religious sentiments of the people who believe in St. Francis Xavier and whose relics are preserved in the BASILICA BOM JESUS for all to venerate.

There is an uproar at Goa with people staging agitations, dharnas and black flag protests during IFFI which is showing the Congress led government in Goa in poor light. The BJP has also addressed the issue  calling the Congress party communal.

The people are furious that the Congress government instead of taking responsibility and applying the right correctives are instead giving lame excuses and making incorrect statements by placing blame on extraneous bodies such as the International film Committee and the Film Federation of India who have no role to play in changing the closing date of IFFI, thus taking the people for a ride.

We have brought to their notice that all the people are asking is to advance the closing ceremony from 3rd. December to 2nd December 2011 which is no big deal. Let the people be free to focus on the Feast of St. Francis Xavier with any diversion and which is their right.  I shall thank you on behalf of ‘The Goan Catholic Welfare Union’ to kindly use your good offices and intervene in this religious matter urgently so as to avoid the clashing of IFFI closing date with that of the feast of St. Francis Xavier.

Copies of the letter have been sent to the Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister, A. K. Anthony, Minister of Information, Smt Ambika Soni and the Senior  BJP leader L.K. Advani.

Protestors against holding IFFI on feast of St. Francis Xavier

Goan Catholic Welfare UnionGoa, December 03, 2011: The Goan Catholic Welfare Union (GCWU) and leaders of NGO’s namely the Pillerne Citizens Forum, Villagers Group of Goa, Porvorim Residents Welfare Association (PRWA), Goemchea Rakhondarancho Awaz (GRA), Saligao Citizens Committee and other lay persons staged a protest dharna chanting slogans condemning the government’s adamant and challenging attitude in going ahead with IFFI closing ceremony followeded with gala dinners, wine and fireworks on the sacred feast day of St. Francis Xavier by ignoring the sentiments of the people.

The participants were carrying a long black banner and holding placards with captions such as IFFI-Digambar Kamat stop the sacrilege,  Respect the rights and sentiments of the people, D’ont destroy goan culture, etc. They paid rich tribute to St Francis Xavier while holding his portrait and singing hyms and praises to the great patron saint in konkani.  Goehcho sahib amkam zai, amkam zai, they chanted. Ek do, ek do,  IFFI ko fek do.  

Addressing the demonstration, Juino De Souza President GCWU said that it is the question of attack on the religious rights and sentiments of the people. IFFI is a distraction and diversion and we have come here directly from Old Goa after hearing the first mass at 5.30 am to show our solidarity with the large section of goans whose sentiments have been hurt with an unjust decision and government will pay the price in the ensuing elections.

Speaking on the occasion Fr. Antonio Rodrigues a senior priest and scholar said today is a great feast of Goa and our goan culture has been destroyed. This is the time when all of us should united to defeat those who are out to wipe out Goa.

Joao Phillip Pereira a social activist said that people are not fools to be deceived by false excuses of vested interests who seem to have no respect for St. Francis Xavier who died on the 3rd December and his death anniversary is celebrated with prayers and devotion. 

Yatish Naik lawyer and activist said St Francis Xavier is not only respected by Catholics, but by people of all faiths who flock to Goa to venerate and pay homage to the patron saint and we do not require IFFI that is costing over 100 crores to the goans. 

Floriano Lobo of GRA stated that IFFI is not wanted by any other state and hence was pushed into Goa during the Parrikar regime. St Xavier is our protector and he will work a a miracle to help goans get rid of IFFI forever.

Joe Carneiro, Joaquim Rodrigues, William Pinto, Hermie Caldeira, George Mascaranhas, Roque Dias,  Alex D’Souza, Merwyn D’Souza, Bosco Souza, Prakash Bandodkar, Rex D’Souza and others also expressed their feelings. 
– juino desouza

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