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Author Topic: Indian Orthodox Church embraces Hindu ritual  (Read 2086 times) Average Rating: 0
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Kefa
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« on: October 11, 2005, 04:24:28 PM »

Kerala church embraces Hindu ritual   
http://www.bellevision.com/newshead.asp?nhid=3018
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Thiruvalla (Kerala), October 11, 2005: A prominent church in Kerala is to hold a Hindu ritual that marks the initiation of children into studies.

The Niranom Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church here will hold the ritual, normally followed by the Hindu community in Kerala, for the third year on Wednesday.

"We have 120 children registered this year. The number last year was 100. We did this for the first time in 2003," said Varghese, who is looking after the registration of the children.Leading the ritual would be the dioceses metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Osthathios and his deputy bishop Youhanan Mar Chrisostomos.

"The programme beginning with the holy mass in the morning on Wednesday will be followed by the ritual," said Varghese.

The Niranom church is believed to have been founded by St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ in AD 54. He is credited with setting up six other churches in the state.

Three years ago, Gheevarghese Erackathu, vicar of the St. George Orthodox Church in Thiruvananthapuram, stirred the hornet's nest when he organised the programme in the church premises, much to the dislike of a section of the laity.

Erackathu said this time too they have organised the ritual and, like last year, the function would be held at the nursery school run by the church -- away from the church premises.

"Close to 30 children have registered so far. I am not sure if other churches are organising this. Anyway we are doing it," Erackathu said.

What has surprised people is that contrary to what the name suggests, this church does not seem to remain orthodox. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is believed to be the only church to hold the 'Vidyarambhom' ritual.Moreover, this church is yet to give sanction for cremation of its members unlike others.
 
 

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Ebor
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2005, 04:47:55 PM »

I'm afraid that I'm not clear as to just what the "rite" entails.  What makes it "Hindu" as opposed to something that is part of a cultural custom of that part of India?  Since the day starts with what Christian worship, how does it turn "Hindu"? 

Ebor
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Mor Ephrem
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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2005, 11:05:56 PM »

It's interesting that it's not until the next to last sentence of the news story that you find out exactly what the ritual is called. 

The ceremony, as it is practiced by Hindus, and as I understand it, is when, at the beginning of a child's schooling, or at the beginning of a new academic year, you start your education with prayer and/or offer your books to one of the gods for blessing.  However, this seems to be a pretty easy cultural element to "baptise" and make Christian, and it sounds like this is what the two bishops are doing (I am familiar with both, and the senior bishop is very much into missions, especially among the unchurched Indian population).  As the article describes, the day begins with the Divine Liturgy, and then the special "ritual".  I hardly think it is the case that these Orthodox bishops are leading kids to offer books to Saraswati after they just received Communion: this is not the first year they've done this, so if they did indeed offer worship to Hindu deities in the past, I'm sure KEFA would've let us know by now. 

My diocesan bishop made us do something similar when we were about to start taking classes to learn our language better.  He wrote for us, and then made us copy on separate sheets of paper, the sentence "Jesus is my Teacher" in our native letters after reciting a short prayer; afterwards, we received his blessing.  Oh no, Hinduism!  Tongue

In addition to how you don't learn about what the ritual in question is until you get to the next to last sentence (and even then, you only learn the name, and not what it actually entails), it is interesting how "balanced" the article is when it says "What has surprised people is that contrary to what the name suggests, this church does not seem to remain orthodox."  On what grounds does "Bellevision Global" declare that "this church does not seem to remain orthodox"?  What does that even mean?  Does it mean that the parish, or the Church, is not Orthodox (as in the "denomination"), or does it mean that the parish, or the Church, is heterodox?  Heck, what on earth is "Bellevision Global"?  And why the seeming complaint that our Church does not allow cremation?  On the one hand, it sounds like they are criticising us for being too Hindu, but on the other hand, it sounds like we're being criticised for not being Hindu enough. 

This is why I don't trust any news about any OO faction--Orthodox or Jacobite--coming out of India/from Indians.  It's way too biased and polemical to be worth paying any mind.       
« Last Edit: October 11, 2005, 11:07:44 PM by Mor Ephrem » Logged

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Shankar
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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2005, 11:20:38 PM »

Could Mor Ephrem or somebody else who is knowledgable about the ritual explain what it is?  I am an enquirer to Orthodoxy who comes from a (not very involved) Hindu background, and I was curious if it was anything I would know about.  Thanks.
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2005, 12:06:49 AM »

I don't know too much about it myself.  A cursory search of the internet resulted in one website which described it as a ceremony in which one's books are offered to the Hindu goddess Saraswati at the beginning of the school year in order to secure blessing for the academic year.  Another version, which I am familiar with from personal anecdotes, involves children beginning their formal education.  A spiritual leader or family elder will take a child and guide his hand as he traces, in a tray of rice, the letters of the alphabet.  This can be simply writing the letters in order, or it can be the writing of a sentence (e.g., "Jesus is my Teacher"), but the idea is the same: to begin one's education in a "holy" way. 
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2005, 12:10:39 AM »

Thank you.  I am familiar with the dedication of books to Saraswati.  My parents didn't really do those things, but I was involved once when I was staying with my aunt and uncle before the beginning of the school year.  I don't know the other rituals, but my family was not particulary devout, and since my family is from Tamil Nadu, there are probably differences in the traditions.
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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2005, 02:09:53 AM »

The Coptic Church, from what I heard in a sermon by a Coptic priest, does not allow, or at least frowns at the idea of cremation.

God bless.
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2005, 07:23:35 AM »

I am an enquirer to Orthodoxy who comes from a (not very involved) Hindu background


God be praised !  Welcome, and feel free to post your questions or concerns about your inquiry !
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2005, 09:23:53 AM »


God be praised !ÂÂ  Welcome, and feel free to post your questions or concerns about your inquiry !

Thank you very much.  I'll be sure to do so.
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« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2005, 01:18:08 PM »

I am most surprised to see KEFA raise this issue.  Unlike him I am in India, KEFA is so involved in bashing the MOSC that he has not taken the time to find out what his own church is doing.

We were witness to footage of the Jacobite church spokesman carrying out the same ritual in Ernakulam, on prime time news.  Some churches of the MOSC too conducted the ritual.
Yet the clergy is divided on this issue.

Dear KEFA dont be in such a hurry, kindly check up All the facts
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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2005, 04:21:17 AM »

Even though we accepting this  as  a Hindu practice all most all traditional Christians in Kerala practiced this for centuries.Either by priests  or in the old way of by their teacher.When i started i started  it with my teacher in the  proper Hindu way and wrote my first letter Hari Sree Ganapathaye Nama Ha but i didn't even know the meaning of it.I don't think it affected my religious practices in any way.Now most Christians start it  using the Lord is my guide.Praise to Lord  or something like this .Its only represent  the important role of God in education.Even way back my parents time no Christan's used this as an event to praise Goddess Swaraswathi(the Goddess of knowledge).
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KEFA


« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2005, 09:35:17 PM »

I am most surprised to see KEFA raise this issue.ÂÂ  Unlike him I am in India, KEFA is so involved in bashing the MOSC that he has not taken the time to find out what his own church is doing.

Dear KEFA dont be in such a hurry, kindly check up All the facts


Huh??  Huh
Dont shoot the messanger  Wink
It was a news reported in the newspaper and i was just wondering to the what extend indian orthodox church is taking this "Indianization" process...
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