Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Observing Lent in India

From the carrying of a Cross uphill in Kerala, to the Canon's procession in Goa, to attending the Way of the Cross each morning in Orissa, there are many ways in which Lent is observed in India.

Kerala is the cradle of Christianity in India. In this state, Lent is observed with passion. Some faithful carry a cross uphill and plant it on Saint Thomas Mount in Malayatoor which the Apostle visited during his stay in India and which has become a pilgrimage site.

Goa is another State with a large Christian Population. It is situated on the West Coast of India. Here, the procession of the Canons is a unique Lenten ritual where about 12 Canons - mostly retired Catholic Priests - walk, singing, mournful dirges at "Se Cathedral" in Old Goa on Good Friday.

This ritual follows the main Good Friday service; here the Canons decked out in long black habits and hoods lead a procession re-enacting the taking of Christ's body to the sepulchre. their mournful dirges stop before the body is finally laid at the foot of the cross at one of the chapels within the Cathedral.

Yet another Lenten practice popularised by the Society of Pilar in the Archdiocese of Goa is a Lenten Play which makes the rounds in various parishes. The Society of Pilar is a Catholic Religious Order based in Goa.

In Orissa's Kandhamal District in Eastern India which has seen anti-christian violence in recent years, some Catholic Villagers attend the "Way of the Cross" every day. Retreats are organised in every parish. The baptism of new catholics takes place only on Easter Sunday, while First Holy Communion is given to children only during Holy Week.

Credits : The Examiner, Mumbai
              Vol 162, No 17
               April 23, 2011

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