Kerala’s Church Feasts

“The feasts are becoming less spiritual and more pompous and commercial. We need to take corrective steps,” Syro-Malabar Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, secretary-general of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, told Catholic News Service at the end of the assembly.

“The spiritual dimension of the feast is often lost in the eagerness to make the feasts colorful,” added the Trichur archbishop.

In a statement after the council’s June 8-10 meeting, the bishops said that “the undesirable practices that have crept into our feast celebrations should be avoided.”

“Celebrations of feasts should lead to spiritual awakening and renewal and foster community feeling,” said the statement by the bishops who represented 30 dioceses in the state.

The bishops urged the nearly 5 million Catholics in Kerala to be conscious of environmental pollution caused by fireworks, traffic jams and huge processions and arcades.

Over the years, feast celebrations have become more colorful and competitive in Kerala — where Christian account for 19 percent of the state’s 35 million people — with parishes trying to outdo each other with colorful lighting, fireworks, live bands and processions.

The feasts also become an occasion for heavy drinking.

Father Stephen Alathara, deputy secretary-general of the Kerala bishops’ council, told CNS that a detailed guideline on feast celebrations is being drafted.

With Kerala having the highest alcoholism rate in the country, the bishops have called for strengthening a temperance and prohibition campaign at the parish level and have urged each Catholic hospital to ensure it has adequate facilities to treat alcoholism.

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