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Call to restore floral traditions

Replacing plastic flowers with the real thing in churches is taking root in Jaffna

Selling flowers outside the church Selling flowers outside the church
  • ucanews.com reporter, Jaffna
  • Sri Lanka
  • June 8, 2011
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A parishioner is urging all churches in and around Jaffna to ditch the use of artificial flowers to decorate places of worship and revert to the Tamil tradition of using real ones instead.

“As far as I’m concerned churches have lost that fresh aura that real flowers bring and so are less appealing to devotees,” Anthony Jesuthasan, 67, a former chief executive officer in a state meteorology department and a parishioner of St Benedict’s church in Jaffna said yesterday.

In the past, fresh flowers filled churches and women would follow a tradition of wearing flowers in their hair.

For flower fans there is nothing more disappointing than seeing artificial blooms in churches and women wearing plastic flowers, he lamented.

The decline in the use of fresh flowers came with the ravages of the long-running civil war which led to flower shortages. People who did not flee the area were also less inclined to grow them in their gardens.

“Churches began to look quite bare. So parishioners opted for artificial flowers to decorate their churches, “said Father Johnpillai Bastian Jothinathan, parish priest of our Lady of Refuge.

Now that the war is over the desire to restore an old tradition is growing stronger.

Some parish priests are already answering the calls and are launching campaigns encouraging people to tend their gardens and make flower offerings to their churches.

“Now we are discouraging plastic flowers. Now people bring jasmine, lilies and others,” Father Jothinathan said.

The move is already pleasing some of the older parishi0ners.

“Once again butterflies will come to our church,” said 72-year-old Mariamma Selvam.
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