Unsteadily Walking in Strong Faith. Notes from the Procession
By Pauline M
The last time I participated in the annual Eucharistic Procession that the Laitumkhrah Cathedral hosts was about 25 years ago. I was still in school and remember spending the morning of the big day carefully ironing my pleated uniform skirt, polishing my shoes vigorously, and tying my ponytail a little higher than I did on regular days. The point being, the procession day was and will for a long time stay an important date in the year's calendar for practising Catholics.
25 years later I stood on the side lines watching the procession.
Impressive. The number of Catholics that converge seems to have increased. Or maybe my memories are faint.
Another stark difference I noted was difficulty in differentiating between a person from Shillong and one from the village. Both are equally better dressed. Dharas, jainsems, dresses, skirts…the riot of colours was explosive. Fashion gurus who talk about "colour of the season" would not find an audience here…people were both colourful and fashionable irrespective of season. Well, most were. I did notice some men in gaudy, glittery suits.
Preparations for the big day starts months in advance. I know. I was the official online "matching bag and shoes search engine" for my family. Everyone went out and bought their clothes first and then panicked because matching shoes and bags could not be found. That's another trend I noticed. Everyone here matches their shoes and sometimes their bags to what they wear. For a big day like the procession, I guess both had to match. And they mostly did, I noticed…red, orange, purple, green, pink…and a lot of silver and gold. Not just colourful, the shoes were pretty too.
Someone once wrote "money can't buy you happiness but it can buy you beautiful shoes and those can lift up the SOLE".
Ironic, my discussing soles on a day meant for the soul.
But despite the crowd and the grandeur of it all, the one thing that stayed with me after the procession was how wrong those 'soles' were. Given that everyone knew the walk was 2 kilometres and more, I cannot fathom why 80% of the women were in heels and possible 80% of those were new. Ah yes, the "matching" factor!
But was it worth the pain…women, old and young, wobbly walking along, probably focused more on the pain than the prayers; some leaning on their male companions (who they towered over) for support…oh, for those few moments of not putting pressure on the heels.
At the end, there were more women with heels in their hands than on their feet.
The origin of religious processions must have either been to express strong faith or show great strength in numbers. Both were attempted by the fashionably brave ladies…faith that those heels would see them through 2 kilometres and strength that their feet would hold up!
Carrie Bradshaw said "When I first moved to New York. I'd buy Vogue instead of dinner. I felt it fed me more".
Pauline M buys dinner.
An IIM Alumni who spent years in the corporate world living the jet set life, Pauline returned to her home town Shillong to think, to feel, to catch her breath. And of course, relish her dinner.