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Kerala church hosts Hindu marriage services

’Rare’ gesture a new example of communal harmony in India

Kerala church hosts Hindu marriage services
Hindu marriages conducted in the church premises
C. J. Varghese, Keerichal

January 17, 2011

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A church in Kerala set a new example of communal harmony by offering its premises to conduct Hindu marriages. Marriages of five Hindu couples were conducted on Jan. 15 at the premises of Holy Family Catholic Church, Keerichal in Alappuzha district. A private trust, Rachael George Charitable Trust, sponsored these and four Catholic marriages on that day. The couples came from poor families. More than 1,000 people watched as Hindu priests conducted the marriage rituals at five different tents erected outside the church building between 8:40 am-9:40 am, the Hindu auspicious time on that day. The Catholic marriages took place inside the church after the Hindu marriages. The Hindu couples and their relations attended the Christian marriages. “A church conducting Hindu marriages inside its premises is a sign of religious harmony. It has its own importance and sanctity,” a Hindu priest, Eswaran Namboothiri Thurithiyillam, told after the ceremonies. Father Anthony Mathias, who conducted the Catholic marriages, lauded the sponsors. “Giving first preference to the Hindus is a living experience of religious harmony,” said the priest who heads the Southern Province of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. Parish priest Father Bernard Saju Eric said he got special permission from his bishop to conduct the Hindu marriages on church premises. He described the event as rare. “It is our gesture of religious unity,” he said. Girish Kumar, a Hindu bridegroom, said all the 18 newly weds have become one family. Rama Devi, a Hindu bride, said her parents had given up hope of marrying her because of poverty. She said the Christian trust has “given me a new life.” The sponsors said they gave 100,000 rupees each to the parents of the brides and met the marriage expenses of the bridegrooms. Related reports Catholics conduct Hindu funeral rites for doctor South Indian archbishop convenes peace summit IB12874.1637
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