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Antony EARATHARA , Kolkata says,
RETREAT AT VARANASI - THE HOLY CITY OF INDIA
By First Year Brother of SCS
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Kolkata, Mar. 10. A trip to Varanasi was a very soothing one and it stimulated a kind of immense joy in the hearts of the first year Brothers of Salesian College Sonada, Darjeeling.  The sole purpose of stepping into the so-called Holy City was to have a graceful experience in Matridham Ashram which is located in the suburbs.

We reached Varanasi on 2nd February and as per the holiday programme.  We had a wonderful retreat preached by Fr. Anil Dev and his team, which lasted till 11th February.  On 12th February we had a darshan of the main city, which was also another lovely experience for us.

Matridham Ashram by its very name radiates an Indianized cultural framework. It could be the cream apostolate of the IMS (Indian Missionary Society) in North India.  It is an Ashram as any Indian Asharam would be, but maintained by the IMS Fathers.

After reaching there we felt the magnitude of God`s grace in abundance.  It was a ``mountain-top`` experience for us.  Within these 10-12 days we had a wide range of experiences.  One such experience was that of witnessing the Christa-Bhaktas or the groups of non-Christian people coming with tremendous faith in front of the Lord and receiving innumerable blessings. It strengthened our faith and also helped us to reflect on our personal faith-life. The prayerful atmosphere was well maintained during these days and this was clearly seen on everyone`s faces till the last day.

The retreat was followed by a short visit to Varanasi city.  We had the privilege of having a 20 minutes sail on the Ganges and experiencing the enchanting sight of a beautiful sunrise over the Holy River. We visited also many of the popular temples in the city, and had a short tour of Saranath, the renowned hallowed spot of Buddhism.  Included in the visit was the magnificent Cathedral Church of the City and a superb multimedia exhibition displayed over there.

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