Mumbai: Jehovah's Witness Weekend Convention Draws Over A Thousand, Meeting Themed 'Exercise Patience' After Kochi Tragedy

Mumbai: Jehovah's Witness Weekend Convention Draws Over A Thousand, Meeting Themed 'Exercise Patience' After Kochi Tragedy

This was the first major meeting of the sect in the country after a terror attack on their convention in Kochi last month killed five people.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Friday, November 17, 2023, 06:40 PM IST
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Beflin Sharona, a teacher from Mulund and husband Praveen Kumar. They attended Friday's convention in Churchgate. | FPJ

Over a thousand people turned up on the first day of the weekend convention held by the Jehovah’s Witness sect on Friday at the Birla Matushri Hall, Churchgate.

First major meeting after Kochi tragedy

This was the first major meeting of the sect in the country after a terror attack on their convention in Kochi last month killed five people. Police vehicles guarding the venue were the only indicators that this convention was organized after a tragic event. During the inauguration program in the morning, the congregation prayed for the safety of the event. If the deadly assault was on their minds, most attendees at the convocation preferred not to talk about it, instead focusing their thoughts on the theme of the meeting, 'Exercise Patience.' Most attendees were happy to attend a community gathering after a gap of three years when Covid-related restrictions took the meetings online.

Devotees seek comfort from the convention

Pinky Mangli, a member of the sect from Ghatkopar, hoped that the meetings would help her cope with the death of her son, Akshay, after illness last year. “I found solace after hearing about the experiences of other people who have gathered here. I get strength from the congregation. I have confidence that my son will come back,” said Mangli, who mentioned that relatives and friends are not available all the time when she emotionally needs them. “Occasions like this are helpful.”

Like Mangli, many of those who attended the sessions on Friday were seeking comfort and patience in their daily lives through a spiritual experience. “We believe that comfort is provided by our scriptures,” said Norman D’Souza, spokesperson of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Details of events on Friday

Friday’s programs included prayers, discourses, and a ‘dramatic’ reading of the Bible, with discussions on characters from the holy book. “The day’s theme is ‘Love is Patience,’ and the aim of the reading was to show how figures from the Bible showed patience in different situations in their lives,” said D’Souza. “Some of the talks are especially tailored for families, about marital relationships and also how to be patient when you have an old or infirm person in the family.”

Beflin Sharona, a teacher from Mulund who was there with her husband Praveen Kumar, said, “There are situations in life when our patience is tested. I am learning to be patient while reaching out for my goals. We may not be able to achieve what we want in a particular time, but we have to learn how to be busy while waiting.”

Devotees resonate theme of 'patience'

Kumar, a building design engineer, said that he hoped to learn about patience in making and maintaining friendships. “We are learning how to be patient in everyday situations,” added Kumar.

Wilson Palghadmal, who has a graphics design business, said that he was happy to attend a community convention after the Covid restrictions. “It is real joy to be together again,” said Palghadmal.

What are these spiritual conventions

Conventions are part of the annual spiritual activities of the group, an evangelist Christian sect founded in the United States in 1870. In India, the Jehovah's Witnesses number between 50,000 and 60,000. While they share many religious beliefs with other Christian sects, the Jehovah’s Witnesses consider Jesus as a leader and not god, instead believing in a Biblical figure called Jehovah as the god.

The conventions during the weekend at two venues are part of the 6000 meetings that will be held this year as part of the ‘Exercise Patience’ series, of which 72 will be in India.

Venues: Birla Matushri Hall, Churchgate, and Center Park Lawn, Mira Road, between November 17 and 19 and from November 24 to 26.

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