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Sang Marie Is Here!

Aug 13, 2008, 7:09 AM | Article By: By Augustine Kanjia

Sang Marie is here, as Christians prepare again for the joyous celebrations. And again Christian panorama is pleased again this year to receive contribution from Charles Sarr Thomas who is an executive member of the Inter-denominational Group for peace and dialogue in The Gambia.

Friday 15 August is the feast of Saint Mary (locally called Sang Marie). On this day Christians, particularly Roman Catholics, celebrate the glorious mystery of the Blessed Virgin Mary's assumption into Heaven. According to Church and other religious accounts, Mary the mother of Jesus upon the end of her life on earth was raised Body and Soul to Heaven, a mystery equaled only, apparently, by her own miraculous conception and birth of her Miracle-Child, Jesus.

In The Gambia, the feast is marked by public processions, religious services, and much communal rejoicing. Gambian Christians perform the street processions each year, come rain or shine. Many have even expressed preference for rain, heavy rain for that matter, as the phenomenon of rain from heaven seems to symbolize or represent the pouring down of grace from heaven, an acceptance of prayers, and a token response of love from our dear mother, Mary Queen of Peace. The event is fully infused with Marian hymns and songs of filial love and devotion. In addition to procession, there are religious services and devotion in churches country-wide with adoration and litany of praises to Mary. Ending the day is the final burst of festive celebration ranging from Police or Army Band musical renditions to Mary, to local drumming, masquerades, discotheque music, food and refreshments. All in all, the day is considered by some as a day of spiritual devotion, of praise and thanksgiving, of love and honour to Mary, and of intra- denominational felicitations.

One could say that the vast celebrations are most fitting for Gambians, Christians and non-Christians alike. Apart from the two cathedrals in Banjul (Anglican and Roman Catholic) other major locations and municipalities have been named after Mary, among them our capital city with its environs, called the Island of St. Mary; there is also Cape St. Mary and Kombo St. Mary. Again, apart from the usual unified celebrations of Gambians, both religious and cultural, we also have in this feast of the Assumption a unity in belief and in our respective scriptures Assumption a unity in belief and in our respective scriptures in the event of the Annunciation to Mary by the angel, Gabriel in the mystery of the Virgin Birth, in the sanctity if Mary in her primacy in human as well as religious history. In this we are guided by Isaiah 7: 14 (Old Testament); the synoptic gospels (New Testament); and Surat-ul-Maryam (Holy Quran).

On this occasion therefore, we should not forget to convey special greetings to all those Gambians named after the Blessed Virgin Mary: all those called Mariama, Mariam, Maryam, Miriam, Marie, Maria, Mariatou, Yama, Mary, May, Marianne, and more. We pray that they receive special love and protection of their blessed namesake on this day and after. To Gambians in joint celebrations, we say congratulations and felicitations. May God grant us life to witness the event again in the coming year. As they say in Wollof: "Ndokale len ko; Yalla nanyu ko fekkeh daywen!"