Mother Express is running across the country carrying the message of compassion and service to the poor and deprived sections of the society. It is a thematic train on the life and messages of Nobel Laureate and Bharat Ratna Mother Teresa. AIR Correspondent Salman Haider covered its journey to Gorakhpur.
This train neither carries passengers, nor goods. What it carries along is the commitment, selflessness and compassion. It carries the messages of humanity given by Blessed Mother Teresa to the world. It carries a few glimpses of glorious saga of an ordinary girl turning into a saint and a preacher of humanity. The train is ‘Mother Express’, a special train launched on the occasion of 100th birthday of Mother Teresa by the Indian Railways.
The six–bogie train is sky blue in colour with dark blue stripes like on Mother’s saree and has Mother’s photo on its exterior. Its look is as serene outside as its interior. Entering the train gives the feeling of entering a meditation centre.
The first coach had display panel carrying the photographs of different phases of the life of the Mother and also excerpts from her preaching. Mother Express is committed to make the general masses aware of the life and works of Mother Teresa. Out of six bogies, three comprise photo panels, messages on life and works of the Mother. The rest are for the team of the train and a generator car. The third coach also contains an LCD TV screen for running short films on the life of the Mother.
The train is a tribute to the noble laureate Mother Teresa who adopted India as her home and work land. Most of the people didn’t know about her Macedonian origin. She came to India in 1931 at the age of 21. She established her own order, "The Missionaries of Charity" in 1950 for those deprived people for whom no one cared.
Mother Teresa cared for the leprosy patients who were being treated as “untouchables” and were used to be discarded from the family and the society. The country recognised her commitment by bestowing her highest civilian award Bharat Ratna (1980) while the Vatican awarded her as the “Blessed Mother of Calcutta”. The Roman Catholic Church is in the process of awarding sainthood, a status that requires proven miracles by the awardee.
Mother Teresa's work has been recognised and acclaimed internationally and she has received a number of awards and distinctions, including the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971) and the Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding (1972). She also received the Balzan Prize (1979) and the Templeton and Magsaysay awards. She is the only naturalised Indian citizen to get Bharat Ratna.
The train also has a rare photo of Mother’s meeting with the Pope. The train was flagged-off by the Railway Minister on 26th August this year from Sealdah station of West Bengal. The train has so far covered West Bengal and North East covering the major locations of New Bongaigaon, Kamakhaya, Dimapur and Dibrugarh. It entered UP via Gorakhpur Junction on the evening of 2nd October, the birthday of Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi and another saint who committed his life for the poorest of the poor and the last rung of the society.
“Thousands of the visitors have written appealing and emotional messages in the visitors’ book. More than three thousand visitors visited the train during its short two days’ stay at Gorakhpur Junction from October 2nd to 3rd…” - Sourakar Roy, Train Incharge
From Gorakhpur the train left for Allahabad to continue its onward journey. It will make a round of the country and spread the messages on Mother’s compassion and care for poor, the abandoned lot of the country.
The Curious children having discussions with their teachers and parents form a distinct sight inside the coaches. The local media also disseminated message about the arrival of the train and its objective. The train’s Gorakhpur arrival was blessed by Dominic Kokkat, Bishop Emeritus of Gorakhpur Catholic Diocese on October 2nd who organised a special prayer for Mother Teresa before opening the train for Gorakhpur people. Several people from philanthropic organisations were also present on the occasion.
The scholarly circle of the city welcomed the initiative of the Indian Railways which is a tangible tool of not only educating the masses on Mother’s life but also as a way of felicitating her contributions for the nation.