ST SEBASTIAN’S CHURCH, COROMANDEL, KGF
Some nostalgia – Remembering the old Church of St. Sebastian in Corormandel KGF.
St Sebastian’s Church in Coromandel Kolar Gold Fields was established in the year 1899. It is one of the oldest Churches in KGF. This Parish of St Sebastian catered to the Catholics living in the mining areas of Coromandel, Balaghat, Gold Field Hill and the whole of Nandydroog Mine.
Inititally, Nandydroog Mine did not have its own Parish church and all the Catholics from Nandydroog were therefore Parishioners of St Sebastian’s Church in Coromandel.
Since the Church was almost 3 miles way, people either had to walk or go by train or Jatka to the Parish Church. In view of the distance and the difficulties involved in reaching St. Sebastian’s Church, arrangements were made by the Parish Priest to conduct Mass for the parishioners in the KGF School Hall. All the Catholics from Nandydroog Mine would attend this Mass at 6 O’clock on Sunday mornings. Even though the Service would be conducted in Latin, everyone would take active part in the prayers and sing all the hymns. The Choir was conducted by Mrs. Monisse and Mr. Oliver. However for all important feasts and other occasions such as the Annual Mission, Funeral Masses, Christenings, First Communions etc, we went to our Parish Church. Later on, a new Shrine dedicated to Infant Jesus was established in the old swimming bath premises for the Catholics of Nandydroog mine. Since we belonged to St Sebastian’s Parish Church initially, all of us were Baptized and also made our First Holy Communion in St Sebastian’s Church.
St Sebastian’s Feast in the month of January was celebrated as the Parish Feast with great fervour and religious zeal by all the parishioners. Every year a novena of 9 days was held just before the feast. On the Feast Day, Masses were held in English and Tamil followed by a grand Car Procession with the statues of St Sebastian, St Anthony and Our Blessed Mother decorated grandly and taken out on all the roads around the Church. While the procession was in progress, people would throw flowers and Gram or “Kudla” mixed with pepper and salt on the statue of St Sebastian as a token of their gratitude for favours received from him. Silver offerings of various figures were also offered either as a request for some favour or in thanksgiving for his blessings. A mini fair would come up around the Church for the whole nine days and stalls selling cheap toys, bangles, Food stuffs, Sweets, etc made roaring business. The giant Wheel, Merry-ground, slippery side etc were major attractions of the children.
A Shrine in honour of St Anthony was also built in the premises of St Sebastian’s Church. This Shrine and the Statue of St Anthony draws many devotees who throng the Shrine on Tuesdays and on other days to pray to him for help in their daily lives.
There is a statue of St Roch in the Church which attracts many devotees who pray to St Roche to cure them of various illness most especially skin rashes. St. Roch is known as the patron Saint against plague, cholera, and skin rashes. St Roch is also known as the patron of Dogs as he loved dogs and it is believed that he got cured of his skin rashes only because his dog would lick the wound .
Sad to say that this heritage Church building which was built more than a century ago slowly started to disintegrate with the passage of time. Despite of all efforts to repair, conserve and maintain the building, many parts of the Church began to collapse. Out of no choice, the old church building has now been demolished and a new structure is coming up in its place.