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Museum celebrates Garo culture, Holy Cross influence

posted in: Bangladesh, History

“He told them, ‘Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.’” 

— Mark 16:15
Local Sisters of the Holy Cross and 300 Garos attended the January 10, 2020, opening of the Ama A∙chik Rasong Museum in Mymensingh, Bangladesh, which pays tribute to the local Garo culture and the religious who brought Christianity to the region.

by Sister M. Bruno (Beiro), CSC 

The Ama A∙chik Rasong (ama–mother, Achik–Garo tribes, Rasong–glory and praise) Museum, which showcases the wisdom and cultural richness of the Garo culture, opened with an inauguration ceremony on January 10, 2020, in Mymensingh, Bangladesh. The museum, which celebrates the history and culture of the local Garo tribes, also commemorates the missionaries who brought the Christian faith to the region, notably Holy Cross religious who answered the call they heard: “Go out.” 

The Garo people’s lineage emerges from Tibet, and their culture, traditions and history are beautiful and interesting. The tribe also has its history of struggle, which includes its exodus from East Pakistan in 1964. Through each trial, the tribe learned how to retain its dignity and identity, and the museum exhibits depict these developments.  

Rediscovering the Garo culture

The museum “will help young people rediscover their culture, language, customs and food,” said museum committee member Apurbo Mrong in a January 13, 2020, online article published by “Due to globalization, the culture, language and tools have almost completely disappeared. … So now, new generations can be inspired by their traditions and roots,” as they discover them at the museum. 

Traditionally, “Garos venerated nature. Nature gave them life, and they also worked hard. The Garo tribe experienced much suffering and injustices,” quoted Mr. Mrong for “Then came the Catholic missionaries who started preaching God’s message. … We also want to remember their contributions with this museum.” 

On the road to the Ama A∙chik Rasong Museum in Mymensingh, Bangladesh, Apurbo Mrong, museum committee member and cousin of Holy Cross Sister Runu Mrong, pauses with Sister M. Bruno (Beiro), CSC, who was missioned to the area in the late 1960s.

In 1963, at the invitation of Archbishop Lawrence Leo Graner, CSC, of the Archdiocese of Dhaka, the Sisters of the Holy Cross started their mission in Ranikhong, Mymensingh, after the Salesian Sisters of Mary Immaculate withdrew from ministry there.​ Since 1967, the sisters have worked in area schools, hostels and sewing centers, and ministered in villages in Jalchatra and Pirgacha parishes.  

Artifacts familiarize young members of the Garo tribe with their history by pointing to the culture, customs and activities of their ancestors.

Garo museum opening

Opening the museum’s inauguration, Bishop Ponen Paul Kubi, CSC, of the Mymensingh Diocese, who is a member of the Garo people, shared a prayer and blessing with 300 Garo Catholics who were present for the event. Several Sisters of the Holy Cross also attended, including Sister M. Bruno (Beiro), who began her ministry with the Garo people in the late 1960s, as well as as Sisters Violet Rodrigues, Area of Asia coordinator, Tuli Drong, Parboti (Gomes), Mala Kubi, Susuma Costa, Sheema Purification, and Semaria Tongpiar. 

The two-story museum also features an auditorium named for Father Eugene E. Homrich, CSC, who worked for 60 years in the area. “Finally, my desire to have the museum comes true,” said Bishop Kubi. “I am very happy to be able to open it.”