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A Memorable Day at a Saintly Place
By Sneha Susan George, Abu Dhabi

[Ms. Sneha Susan George attends Class 9 at St. George Orthodox Church Sunday School, Abu Dhabi. This article was originally published in the Silver Jubilee Souvenir of the Abu Dhabi Sunday School published in May 2003.]

I would like to pen down my feelings about one of the touching experiences in my life, which I consider divine. This happened during my last summer holidays (July 2002) in Kerala. Whenever I get an opportunity, I love to go to my parental home in Kottayam Dist. where my grand parents live and also make it a point to visit Pampady Dayara where The Late Pampady Thirumeni (H.G Kuriakose Mar Gregoriose of Kottayam Diocese 1885-1965) is having his eternal rest.

On July 7th 2002, after praying at the "Khabaridam" (Tomb) of this Saintly Thirumeni, we also visited the MGM Abhaya Bhavan and the Bal Bhavan attached to the Dayara. In the Abhaya Bhavan, there were about 40 inmates who are all old/sick destitute men and women and in the Bal Bhavan there were about 30 destitute children of different ages and religions.

In these Charity Homes, by paying RS.1,000/- we could sponsor a lunch or dinner feast as a Holy Offering for these less fortunate inmates in the name of the Saintly Thirumeni.

Since my birthday was not celebrated due to exams in the previous month, my Mummy told that let us take the opportunity to celebrate this time with these less fortunate inmates. Accordingly we booked the lunch for 11th July, the next available date as an offering from us.

On 11th July at about 11:30 hrs our family again visited Dayara. After meditation and prayers at the "Kabharidam" we reached the Abhaya Bhavan at about 12:30 hrs. Although food was arranged from the Kitchen there on our behalf, we also carried some home made preparations, fruits etc.

Sharp at 12:45 hrs, all the inmates including children assembled in the large prayer hall attached to the Abhaya Bhavan. Children who had gone to school were not present. All were wearing very simple white clothes which were very neat and clean in appearance. There was a large portrait of Pampady Thirumeni along with that of Jesus Christ, St. Mary, Parumala Thirumeni, St. Thomas and St. George arranged elegantly and kept on a podium towards the East end of the hall. Also present there, a lady from a nearby place. As per the announcement made by the Abhaya Bhavan In-Charge, Rev. Fr. AV Varghese, we came to know that her son was missing in Mumbai and she came for the intercessory prayers of Pampady Thirumeni along with the Abhaya Bhavan inmates for his safe return. We all prayed together for about 30 minutes. During the prayer time, all of us including most of the inmates there knelt down. Achan's special prayers were very touchy. For most people present there, tears filled the eyes when Achan led the prayers saying "THE SAINT OF THABORE MOUNTAIN, PLEASE PRAY FOR US"(THABORE MALAYILE THAPASSA VARYA NJANGALKKUVENDI APESHIKKANAME) in Malayalam after pin pointing each and every individual/general prayer requests.

After the prayers, Achan made a special mention about us (myself, my sister, my parents and grand parents) to the inmates present. Achan stated further; as visible to human eyes, the inmates here are poor and helpless, some even suffering from chronic diseases and no dear and near to take care. But we should remember one thing; their prayers will be answered faster since they are closer to GOD than most of us who have many worldly blessings. We all endorsed what Achan said.

In the next five minutes or so we saw the Abhaya Bhavan & Bal Bhavan inmates with their own individual plates and tumblers occupying the dining hall benches put in 'U' shape as a very disciplined lot. All of us along with Achan and the two full time female volunteers of the Bhavan were busy for the next 30 minutes serving the 50-55 odd group with a delicious 4 course lunch.

Depending on the health needs/preference of each individual, special care was taken by the volunteers to serve the food (ie. veg /non veg/fish/meat/cold water/hot water/jeera water/kanji vellam etc etc). After the prayers, everybody dispersed to clean their own plates and tumblers. Whoever needed assistance was helped by the Achan and the volunteers with a smiling face, without any hesitation. In the next few minutes we found a clean dining place without any spillovers etc, which is unusual under normal circumstances. The inmates then retired to their own rooms/dormitory with a sincere smile from their inner heart. The children seemed more matured for their age. Some of them even made it a point to hug my younger sister before saying bye.

Afterwards, Varghese Achan invited us to the adjacent small dining room, where all of us along with Achan had a very simple lunch, but we could feel the richness of love and warmth all around. During the lunch time, Rev. PC Yohannan Rambachan, who is the Manager of the Dayara and associated establishments joined us without notice. Rambachan was the Dayara Caretaker and Secretary to Late Pampady Thirumeni from his childhood. Although he was a very busy person, appears to me very nice, simple and humble. He spent about 30 minutes with us at the Abhaya Bhavan and also took us around.

At around 14:30 hrs, we left the place with a sense of rare fulfillment in our hearts. I derived lot of mental satisfaction, from this rare rich experience. I could truly experience the Silver Jubilee theme of our Sunday School: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" - Acts. 20:35

While returning home, I expressed my feelings to my Dad. He endorsed the same and said that when he was very young he used to have the same feeling when he visited Pampady Thirumeni with my Grand father, although Thirumeni was old and bed ridden.

As per him, Pampady Thirumeni's philosophy was very simple. All creations of God including humans, animals etc are equal before God. Respect all other religions, for no religion advocates the negative and lower qualities of man. Perform selfless empathetic service to the poor, the sick, and the needy without thought of reward or fame. Cultivate in their lives the values of truth, divine love, right conduct, peace, and harmony and promote these values among all. Giving everything to everybody was a way of life for HG. Like his Guru Parumala Thirumeni, HG tried to practice exactly what he preached.

May this Saintly Appachan's intercessory prayers be a FORT to all of us.

In every sense I felt that 11th July 2002 had really created an everlasting impression in my heart and truly was a memorable day in my life.

Source: IOIF

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