Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Hindi worship advances mission

The Eucharistic liturgy in Hindi has been published in a Prayer Book for the first time, but its unique value for mission and outreach has been a resource for Anglicans in Fiji for 20 years.

Julanne Clarke-Morris  |  07 Dec 2020

Approved for use twenty years ago, the Hindi version of Page 404 in  ‘A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa’ was the first Eucharistic liturgy completed amongst the new translations in the 2020 edition.

Back in the late 1990s the Hindi version’s reception by worshippers was well supported by retired Hindi-speaking priest, Rev Edward Subramani and Rev Sam Sahayam, who laid much of the groundwork for the new translation with help from Rev Daniel Sahayam, Rev Yusuf Sahayam, Rev Kelvin Rakesh and Bishop Gabriel Sharma. 

The Diocese of Polynesia's translations coordinator Rev Sione Uluilakepa reported that Rev Edward had entered into a lengthy dialogue with communities when the translators' group began to nudge and fine-tune the Hindi texts for use in worship.

“Rev Edward Subramani was very consistent in the way he put the liturgy on trial for two years and engaged with feedback from the community as he went.”

He also held workshops with Hindi-speaking churches to help them understand where the changes were coming from, and what the theology behind them did.

“By the time the liturgy was ready for approval it had already been well tested and widely accepted.”

Bishop Gabriel pointed out this week that translators of the Hindi texts had to contend with a distinct variation between Hindi as spoken in India, and the Hindi language commonly spoken in Fiji.

That explains why some of the words and phrases that appear in the translation for Fiji’s Hindi Page H404 are quite distinct from other translations, as translators chose to communicate the gospel message and meaning of the Eucharist in words that were the best fit for Fiji’s unique Hindi-speaking context.

One ongoing challenge for Hindi-speaking Anglican parishes is that younger worshippers now tend to prefer charismatic worship styles, which they lead using songs and prayers from English language sources, for example Hillsong. Bishop Gabriel Sharma reported that is especially common in mixed ethnicity parishes.

That means that today, some Sunday services have only the gospel and Eucharistic prayers in Hindi – and that choice mostly resonates with older churchgoers. But in the same parish Eucharistic services at weekday women’s group meetings, for example, may be held entirely in Hindi.

At yet other worship centres, such as in Siberia and Batinikama in Labasa, the full Hindi liturgy is commonly used for both special services and Sunday Eucharists.

Bishop Gabriel says the full Hindi service also holds missional value for those who find worship more homely, relevant and empowering in their mother tongue,

“The use of the Hindi language in song and proclamation is a constant avenue which is effective in outreach and mission activities undertaken around the diocese among Hindi speaking communities.”

That’s why the Hindi translation team – led by Bishop Gabriel Sharma and Rev Kelvin Rakesh – are now working to translate the Prayer Book’s pastoral liturgies to connect better with non-Christian Hindi speakers – particularly for times when they encounter the church at prayer: such as funerals, wedding and baptisms. At the same time, Hindi translators are working on the collects, Page 476 liturgy and morning and evening prayers to assist with devotional life for Anglican Hindi speakers.

The revised Hindi Eucharistic liturgy, ‘Parmeshwar Ke Logo(n) Ka Dhanyawaad,’ is printed on page H404 of the newly published A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa.