After a long hiatus, my photography inspiration raised its convalescent head again. I was sucked into the routine of work and an illness, from which I am recovering as well and which made me miss the Onam (the national festival of Kerala) festivities.
DISCLAIMER: This is a post relating to the religious diversity and harmony of my country and not intended in any way to offend anybody of any religion.
We went to the local church at Arthat- built in AD 52 by St Thomas himself, the apostle who came to preach the Gospel in Kerala and India. The church building has been rebuilt many times as it was destroyed once by Tippu Sultan during his conquest of South India and few times by fire and natural disasters. The present building is more than a hundred years old and has witnessed many dignitaries, bishops and treaties and has played an important role in the history of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian church (which I belong to). Today was the feast of St Mary. There were hawkers, balloon sellers, an exuberant crowd and two things unique- one to northern Kerala, this being the usage of elephants in a church festival and the other, a unique occurrence which might occur only in India. I have shown you the love of the people of Thrissur for the pachyderm, in my posts regarding Thrissur pooram.
I am going to dwell in detail about the second unique thing which I witnessed today. History has it that Kerala was inhabited by lot of Hindus, divided into castes and tribes. St Thomas came and converted four major Brahmin (the priest caste in Hinduism) families and thus laid the foundation to Christianity in India. When he came to Arthat during his travels, he converted many people to Christianity and built the church at Arthat, the area which was inhabited by the Paraya caste who used to worship Goddess Kali. He asked the Hindu families to leave so the converted Christians could safely perform worship and other religious activities. The Paraya people refused to leave as the place was their ancestral home. They came to a compromise regarding the situation by agreeing to get a share in whatever festivities the church has. Thus , Goddess Kali comes (in human form) to visit the church annually in their festival with her demon friends. This, my friends, is a strange but wonderful religious tradition in which a Hindu Goddess comes to a church on a Christian festival to pay their regards. And custom has it that the feast starts with the food first being dedicated to this troupe of Paraya people before distributing it to the faithful congregation.
It happens only in India.
Enjoy the vista of Goddess Kali and her demon friends.