Every one looks forward to Christmas, the colorful festival on the 25th of December which heralds the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger. This is one festival which is celebrated by almost everyone who takes pride in putting up a Christmas tree and decorating it with lots of lovely bells and stars. Gifts for the entire family and friends are packed and kept under this tree and given away on the 25th. This season also brings out many small and large choir groups who sing songs and carols at public gatherings across the city.
This year, Christmas season is special for Bangaloreans with St Mark’s Cathedral, the landmark building on MG Road celebrating its bicentennial year. This striking building built in Victorian style was founded in 1808 was modeled on the lines of London’s 17th century St. Paul’s Cathedral and was consecrated in 1816 by the Bishop of Calcutta. The church is named after St. Mark, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, who was believed to have been the first Gospel writer. It was initially meant for worship by high ranking British officers and later civilians were allowed. Even today, a joint service is held every November by chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force on Remembrance Day and this is a very colorful and solemn service.
As you enter this beautiful colonial structure, you will find a graceful dome over a semicircular chancel that transports you almost immediately into tranquility. The stained glass windows, marble altar, imposing pillars within and the porch of grand columns, richly carved doors and gilded stars decorating it on the inside, make for a perfect place for worship. The compound also boasts of numerous plants and fruit bearing trees along with a small fountain which adds to the beauty of this place. If you haven’t visited this place yet, you are missing something.
Rev Vincent Rajkumar, the Presbyter of the cathedral, says that the cathedral, which started out as an Anglican church, had become part of the Church of South India (CSI) in 1947 and in 1961 it became the Mother Church of Karnataka Central Diocese.
St. Mark’s Cathedral with its stylish address of #1, MG Rd, has become quite a draw among the city’s musicians too, thanks to its fabled pipe organ which is the largest in South India. Installed in 1920, the magnificent instrument was in a state of disrepair for several decades. The cathedral started using it again after a team of Swedish experts repaired it at a cost of Rs. 50 lakhs. Churches like St. George’s Cathedral and St. Andrew’s Church in Chennai have taken inspiration and have started restoring their pipe organs too!
The church is processing a proposal with the Postal department for Commemorative stamps. The Reverend is planning big, hoping the President will grace the culmination of the celebration. For more information, please visit the Cathedral’s website at www.saintmarks.in