It’s Erntedank time again – or Thanksgiving Festival like it’s popularly known in India and abroad. The festival is a celebration of the autumn harvest. The first Sunday in October is set aside as a day of Thanksgiving, in India and worldwide. Here is a small glimpse of the celebrations in Aundh (Pune, Maharashtra), Yerragondapalem (Prakasham, Andhra Pradesh) and a variety of lovingly and painstakingly decorated altars from different congregations.
Aundh gets Smarter
Aundh used to be a little suburb in Pune, Maharashtra that has experienced tremendous growth since the mid 1990s. Close to IT parks and the esteemed University of Pune, it boasts swanky residential properties. Chosen as one of the Smart City projects, the area is being transformed – people are excited to see cycle tracks, vertical gardens, well planned roads and other infrastructure perks that will not only beautify the city but make life more convenient.
Small Hands – Overflowing Heart
When the Aundh congregation gathered for Thanksgiving, eight year old Bhumi stood among the crowd. She had lost her mother when she was barely two years old, and her maternal grandparents had brought her up. She has been a fixture in church and is an active part of Sunday school activities – never missing a single class. From the age of five, she had started to save money in a tin box. For over three years, little Bhumi had faithfully put her pocket money in the box and kept it aside. During the Thanksgiving service, Bhumi offered her tin box in the church – her way of honouring God.
After the service, Bhumi’s contribution was counted – INR 4099. The congregation was surprised to see the little girl’s faith and generosity towards God, her generosity set an example for all. Following her example, others in the congregation gave generously as well – wanting to offer the Almighty God thanks for all He did and was doing in their lives.
Yerragondapalam Bows Down in Thanks
Yerragondapalam in Prakasam District of Andhra Pradesh is home to rice, chilli, and cotton farmers. The little village enjoys the quiet and green forest on one side and the mountains on the other side.
The congregation got together and celebrated the Thanksgiving festival by organising a youth meeting, seminar and a Thanksgiving themed Divine Service. Around 80 people attended the programme.
The congregation was thrilled to have Bishop Vijay Kumar Sangolgi conduct the Divine Service. They had not had any visitors for over eight years. The Bishop based the Divine Service on the Faithfulness of God and read from Malachi 3:10, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” He shared that their offerings were an expression of their gratitude. It demonstrated that they lived in accordance to God’s commandments. However, he warned the congregation not to equate material blessings with salvation.
Youth on Fire
The congregation and youth felt moved while the Bishop spoke about faith. They were on fire for God. Everyone who gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving festival started referring to the day as a Day of Blessing. They all brought their tithes and first fruits to God to show their gratitude towards God’s generosity in their lives.
The Thanksgiving day had everyone’s creative juices flowing. Here is a look at how congregations across India dressed up their altars.
Premnagar Congregation (Dehradun / Uttarakhand)
The congregation in Bhubaneshwar (Odisha)
Altar decoration in Shivajinagar (Mumbai, Maharashtra)
Top view of the altar in Lajpatnagar (Delhi)
Decoration of both altar and emblem in Hafeezpet (Hyderabad / Telangana)
Thanksgiving cake in Raipur (Chhattisgarh)
Thanksgiving Service in Bengaluru Central (Karnataka)
Altar decoration in Ghughus (Maharashtra)
Words: Dipti Nitin Raje / Nagabhushanam / BBMH
Images: Various Contributors