Church and temple share Christmas joy in Kerala

In times of social disharmony in inter-community ties, a church and a temple in Kerala are epitomising the traditional 'idea of India'

Dec 23, 2021
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Kerala communal harmony

In times of social disharmony in inter-community ties, a church and a temple in Kerala are epitomising the traditional 'idea of India'. In an annual tradition in Kerala, Thrikkannamangal Sri Krishnaswami temple and St. George Orthodox Syrian church in Kollam are uniting in each other’s festivities, according to The Hindu. 

Carrying Christmas lanterns and filling the air with merry strains of music, a carol party is perhaps least expected at the entrance to a temple. But the deity at the Thrikkannamangal Sri Krishnaswami temple is no stranger to carollers as they visit him every year, belting out upbeat hymns to spread the festive cheer. As part of a long-standing local tradition, the carol service from St. George Orthodox Syrian church makes a stopover in front of the temple tower, where both Christians and Hindus join in the Christmas revelries, the media said. 

While the temple committee welcomes the carol service with nilavilakku (traditional lamps), nirapara (heaped paddy) and firecrackers, the parish priest offers a prayer of blessing. Standing next to an array of lamps, the carol party sings about the birth of Jesus Christ and it blends with the temple bells. “During the last two years, we couldn’t conduct the carol service due to the pandemic-related restrictions. The carol party from the church visits only this temple and every year we wish them a merry Christmas and happy new year on the occasion,” says Father Spencer Koshy, parish priest, was quoted as saying. 

According to the residents, the temple and church share a special bond as they were built around the same period. “It’s a holy month for both the communities as Christmas coincides with the mandala season and the main festival of the temple and church also fall on the same month. Every year the temple committee receives a muthukuda (ornate umbrella) when the festival begins and it’s a unique tradition of the place,” Saji Cheroor, a resident. was quoted as saying. When the rasa (procession) from the church passes through, the temple committee accords a reception at the junction.

The church reciprocates when the ceremonial procession from the temple during the annual festival reaches the nearby road. “For as far back as I can remember, the carol party has been stopping by the temple. They usually inform us when they start and then the temple committee makes all arrangements to welcome the party. The committee members will be present on the occasion and it’s a custom that manifests our communal harmony,” said temple committee president K.K. Jayamohan

A temple, a mosque and a church have peacefully co-existed in shouting distance of each other at many places in Kerala, a reflection of the southern state's plural heritage, though recent incidents due to political rivalries have tarnished the India's most literate state's reputation as a place where religions and communities can co-exist so peacefully. (SAM)

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