"Singing as we go"

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One of the Taizé brothers living in Bangladesh writes:
One of the very beautiful things about Bangladesh it is how much people like to sing. Recently I experienced this once again - like a thousand times previously … In the different villages where I went recently to make visits with two companions, we sang a great deal; either in Bengali, or in the Garo language, or - with some more educated young people - in English.

The aim of our journey was to visit some of the more isolated Christian villages in our area, villages where I had never been before in the almost 20 years I have been living in Mymensingh. At the beginning we travelled by bus; then we did quite considerable distances by bicycle. On the road, you meet many people everywhere. Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world, with more than 1000 people per square kilometre! It is a very beautiful country and incredibly green, like an immense garden. The rice it is hardly cut when they start preparing the ground for the next sowing or planting …

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In the villages the reception was cordial everywhere. Many people initially came just to see us; in fact they were eager to speak with us. Then we went to visit the families in their houses. Some of the children would not leave us any more! Their spontaneity and their smiling faces were beautiful to see. One family had six children, all of them less than 12 years. The grandmother was practically blind; not having money for treatment, little by little she had lost her sight. The children were very lively and friendly. Resmi, a six year old girl, said to me: “Brother, I will go away with you. I will work for you. You will give me food to eat. Here I often eat only once a day and when I am hungry my stomach makes a lot of noise.”

In one of the villages, in Kumira, the church was very full for the evening prayer. The people present were Christians from four different denominations. After the prayer, everyone remained seated in the church for a biblical introduction, followed by a moment of group discussion. There were three groups: one for the older people, one for the young people, and one for the children. The children – around twenty of them - were not used to discussions. But they were very happy to be able to sing and pray together. The next morning, once again many people came to pray with us.

Everywhere we went, we were invited to stay in the families. As always, I was filled with wonder at the gift of joy that the Garos have. Their faces so often express good humour and they love to laugh.

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One night we stayed with a family in a village that had only eight Christian families. What a friendly family! As the house was quite big, we had a very beautiful prayer that brought together all the Christian families of the village. Two other small hamlets also numbered just a few Christian families. The other families were Moslem or Hindu. As soon as we arrived, many Moslem women came towards us with their children. They were very keen to speak with us. This fact showed straight away that the relations between the Christians and Moslems in this village were good. Indeed, in general Moslem women hide when foreign men appear. Since all the houses of the Christian families in this village were very small, we prayed outside, sitting on the ground. The Moslem women stayed close by; they observed, full of respect for our prayer.

Everywhere, throughout the different visits in these villages, you could feel a very simple faith. The people live so far away from everything that they cannot go to church often. Their joy was great to be able to welcome us in their homes. We did not need to explain the goal of our visit. For them it was clear: we had come to share our faith with them, to pray and to sing God together.

Last updated: 22 March 2007