Monday, May 28, 2007

She Begged For Alms And Crowned Mother Mary

She Begged For Alms And Crowned Mother Mary

Picture of Thangamma

BANGALORE, May 28, 2007 -- Pilgrims to the 25-year-old Shrine of Mother of Mines in Kolar Gold Fields, Karnataka, were in for a big surprise when 76-year-old Thangamma announced her gift of a Rs-65,000 gold crown for the miraculous statue of Mother Mary.

Thangamma won no lottery. It was the alms she received begging for the last 30 years at the Shrine of Mother of Mines in the mining town of KGF, 90 kilometres from Bangalore.

Thangamma is stone blind in her left eye. Her right eyesight is fading, too. But her faith has not failed even in the darkest moments of her life. "I was Muniamma when I came to KGF 31 years ago. It was the good Father John Solomon who baptised me and I took the name Thangamma (Mother of Mines)," she recalls, even as she vividly recollects the many priests who served at the church.

Shrine of Mother of Mines at Kolar Gold Fields (KGF)

Though blessed with four sons and four daughters, she was abandoned by them and her husband and in-laws when she chose to embrace Christianity. "There was a lot of opposition from all sides when they came to know that I wanted to become a Christian… My children began acting rude with me. One of my sons even punched me in the eye," she said with abject grief.

"One by one, they all deserted me. Life was a lonely and painful journey but as I began begging at the chapel of Our Mother of Mines, I began to feel a kind of peace that I never experienced before in my life. I used to spend much time looking at the statue of Mother Mary. She was real to me. She became part of my life. She became my greatest comfort and I decided never to leave the portals of the Chapel."

Father P. Arockiadoss, the first diocesan priest from the parish testifies: "From my early childhood, I used to observe Thangamma always present in the church. I doubt she ever missed a single Mass; she was always found in the chapel either sweeping or mopping the floor or dusting the benches or decorating Our Lady’s statue with flowers."

Thangamma continues with the same routine and is able to strike a conversation with almost anyone.

"When the mines were functioning, many Britishers used to give me good alms."

Now, on Sundays, Thangamma makes a collection of rupees hundred or more. "Some pilgrims sometimes give me a blue note (100 rupees) she says with a broad toothless grin."

Thanks to the generosity of the Vincent de Paul Society-run Home for the Aged in the parish vicinity, Thangamma stays there and gets her daily meals.

Already in her third quarter, hale and healthy Thangamma says, "I will live many more years because I have to beg and buy a gold chain next, for my Mother," she says, tearfully pointing to the statue of Our Lady in the shrine. (SAR)

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