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The Sang Marie You Know is Here

Aug 12, 2009, 6:28 AM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

Sang Marie, the same Sang Marie you know is here as Christians prepare for the joyous celebrations. And again Christian Panorama is pleased again this year to receive contribution from Charles Sarr Thomas as usual, who is an executive member of the Inter-denominational Group for Peace and Dialogue in The Gambia and a veteran footballer.

Saturday 15th 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 symbolise 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).


What do you know about Mary?

Saturday 15th August is the feast of Sang Marie. When we say 'Sang Marie" we are referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ the forerunner of Christianity. What do people know about Mary? According to Biblical sources Mary was born of Joachim and Anna. Her guardian was Zachariah , father of her cousin Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist. From her lineage she came from the leading religious family of Levi, one of the 12 tribes of Israel, from which lineage came the priests of Israel(the levitical priesthood) including Moses and Aaron . To that blessed lineage of the Levitical priesthood, God sent his angel, Gabriel, to announce to her the birth of Jesus. This message of the angel was very surprisingly delivered at a time when Mary had known no man. These accounts nevertheless are fully accounted in The Gospels (Injil), and in the Koran (Al Maryam and Al Imran).The conception of Jesus has been called the Immaculate conception, and his birth the Virgin birth, both being the most renowned and most mystical of mysteries. After the birth of Jesus, Mary took loving care of her child as any mother would, together with her husband Joseph who was of the line of Judah from which lineage the messiah was to hail.

According to this Divine plan, Jesus was to meet his death on a cross at Calvary. Mary his mother was there by the cross suffering with her son all the pain and sorrow of trials, persecution and crucifixion. From some historical accounts, following the death of her son, Mary stayed with the beloved disciple of Christ, John the Evangelist, in a small town Partnus in Asia Minor during the rest of her life on earth.

When she died, Mary was raised into heaven body and soul.

The assumption of Mary into heaven is what Christians celebrate on Sang Marie day. Christians in The Gambia celebrate this glorious mystery by prayers, Mass, procession, and joyful social activities at the end including drumming, masquerades and communal feasting. The intensive joy and celebrations of Gambians probably stem from the fact that Mary is the patron saint of The Gambia in the extent that after her was named Island of St. Mary (Banjul) , Cape St. Mary, Kombo St. Mary, and Gambia's only two cathedral Churches on Hagan Street and Independence Drive respectively. Following her ascent into heaven, she has subsequently appeared on earth in several places. There have been reported apparitions in Fatima in Portugal, Lourdes in France, in the Island of Guadeloupe among other places. Many women and some men in The Gambia, Christians as well as Muslims, are named after Mary.

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, Sang Marie 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!"