Goa Russians hope for their own church

Candolim (Goa), Dec 18: With more than 500 Russians having made Goa their home, the community is now hoping to set up a Russian Orthodox Church in the state.

M. Mzareulov, senior Russian counsellor in Mumbai, admitted to the need of a church for the long-staying Russians. He, however, said that it was not “in the government’s hands” due to the doctrine of ‘separation of church and state’ in Russia.

“The church is not part of the state and they have to take their own decisions. We (Russia) cannot do any kind of pressure… The construction can take place in Goa if they (ecclesiastical authorities) decide and the local authorities allow,” he told IANS.

He was speaking to the media after inaugurating a Russian Information Centre in the beach village of Candolim, 20 km from Panaji, some days back.

If set up, the church could be the second such parish to be set up in India after the one in New Delhi.

In November, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church visited the state and besides celebrating Mass, also baptized a couple of children.

The Russian authorities also said they were exploring the possibility of starting a Russian school here for kids.

“We hope the new government under the Bharatiya Janata Party will promote the project,” Mzareulov said.

Besides those who are staying here for long, as many as 10,000 Russians spend six months in the state as part of a long holiday.

The state also receives over 90,000 short term tourists annually during the season here, which coincides with severe winter in Russia.

IANS