Catholics in southwestern India have set a new world record by singing non-stop for 40 hours, UCA News reports.
Priests, religious, and laypeople started singing on January 27, managing to eclipse the previous 36-hour record set by a Brazilian Christian group in 2004.
The record-setters sang in the Konkani language, currently spoken by about 5 million people. The language is largely associated with Catholics on the southwestern coast of India.
Eric Ozario, founder of the Konkani cultural organization Mandd Sobhann, told UCA News that the aim of the project was to instill a sense of unity and solidarity among Kokani-speaking people. “We are a small community and Westernization is eating away our culture,” he said. The Konkani community could grow "only when it is united, culturally rooted and proud of its culture." Ozario said some Konkani-speaking Catholics have turned to an “English culture, forgetting their rich cultural roots.”
"Konkani language and our Catholic faith are linked to each other, and we cannot separate one from the other," Sister Juliet Lobo, a Queen of Apostles nun who helped conduct the performance, told UCA News.
Sister Lobo said about 1,700 singers in 44 groups sang continuously, with less than ten seconds between songs and between singing groups. While the singers mostly came from Catholic parishes in the Indian states of Goa, Maharashtra, and Kerala, some Konaki-speaking Catholics from Persian Gulf countries were also included.
They sang over 600 Christian hymns or faith-related songs. No song was repeated and no singer appeared more than once. The groups providing musical accompaniment changed every four hours.
Keith Pullin, an official from Guinness World Records, monitored the performance. He told UCA News he was "amazed by the discipline of the groups, their performance and the professionalism" of the event.
Father Ramesh Naik, a Mumbai parish priest who was the event’s chief patron, said the Konkani culture had played a major role in shaping faith and culture. “It has to be preserved,” he said to UCA News.