Onam in the Holy Church
- Dear readers,
Onam is a religious festival for Kerala Hindus and a secular cultural festival for Christians and Muslims.Celebrating Onam as a cultural festival is okay but Christians believing in all the myths of Onam is not correct. We do not need the the story of Mahabali to spread the message of Christianity. It can be used as a add on in the basic Christian message of our Lord and the only Saviour Jesus Christ. I remember reading in Hudaya Canon that it is okay to use uses resources from non Christian sources as even St Paul used it . But, it should be used only as a second point to the basic Christian message.
Be it Onam or Ugadi it is better always to glorify only Christian festivals by doing charity.This is because charity done on Christian festivals will spread the message of Christ . When people help others on the basis of non Christian festivals it sends a message to many Christians and non Christians that there are different paths to God and every so called "gods" are equal to Christ.
Another objection to Onam is the Ona sadya of Hindus. In this they place a Sadya leaf filled with all items in front of a lamp . This sadya leaf is supposed to symbolize the invitation of Mahabali, the ighteous Demon King to have the sadya.The people are supposed to eat only after some rituals I suppose invoking Mahabali's presence. This is ancestor worship which is prohibited for the Christians . Eating Ona sadya then becomes eating food offered to idols which is banned by the Holy Bible.The myth also has elements of idol worship with Vamana an avatar of vishnu.But, if the Ona Sadya is organised as a simple communal meal without any religious connection , then it is okay.
There is another tradition of Vidyarambam in Churches. Although it doesn't have any sacramental significance It is always good to start education with the prayers to our Lord Jesus Christ conducted by a properly ordained Syriac Orthodox (Jacobite)clergy.It is only good if the if the prayer written on the tongue is addressed to Lord Jesus Christ, I guess this is being followed by our Church. But, the problem comes in the choice of date.It is celebrated on the day of "vijayadashmi" which is a Hindu day of worship of their gods. I guess we are should not glorify this day . It would be advisable to move this day to July 30 ,(the dukhrono of the great scholar of the
Syriac Orthodox church Mor Gregorious Yuhanan Bar Ebroyo,maphriyana). So this can be done with intercession of Bar Ebroyo .
The Christian message of loving all the people should be based on the principle of Loving the sinner (non Christians and Christians) and hating the sin(which includes idol worship).
With prayers and intercession of Morth Schumni , her 7 sons and their teacher Mor Eliazhar who was martyred as they refused to eat food sacrificed to idols and glorified only the true God , the Father , Son and the Holy Spirit.
- Dear brother Apu in Yashua Mshiho,Berek Aloho.
I just want to make an important comment that onam is completely a hindu-pagan rite and festival and must be avoided in every way by Orthodox Christians.This of course includes supposedly celebrating it in a secular way because it is hindu-pagan and demonic in every way.You cannot celebrate a hindu,pagan demonic rite in a secular way,let alone anyway at all.Our Lord,God and Saviour Yashua Mshiho,our bleloved Master and Saviour forbids such abominable acts,which are forbidden by the Holy Trinity-the one true God,and His Holy church,the Holy Orthodox church of which we all as members of make up the body of Christ here on earth with Christ as the head.You were very right by saying we must love the sinner but hate the sins,which we are called by our Lord to do,but we are not to associate with pagans and by no means participate in any way with them and there pagan-demonic false religion.
In the loving embrace of Christ our Saviour, Michael.
- Dear all,
It is very interesting that all of you have discussed celebrating Onam in church. The various views show that the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox church is on the right track as we are evolving in our thought process and views. My congratulations and best wishes to all who have brought forth their views. For those who are not aware of the Indian context, one must know that in Kerala and throughout India we live in an atmosphere of religious harmony and unity. As Jacobite Christians we have our belief and traditions and these are an assimilation of the traditions of the land we live in as well. When we celebrate our festivals we invite our sisters and brothers of other religions as well. They whole heartedly attend our festivals and be a part of our celebrations. This religious pluralism calls for religions living in harmony and religions involve people of all faiths. Onam by now has been claimed as a festival which is celebrated by all. Religion is not brought into this. Churches outside Kerala celebrate it more because it is a time for people to get nostalgic and bring back memories of their small Kerala. Going further, Onam is also a time when we think about justice and how the powerful deny us this justice. Mahabali the king then becomes a symbol of this fight against injustice. Onam is also a time when people remember that there was a time in Kerala when everyone was
treated the same. Be it myth or history, the people of Kerala associate with it and for a day or two feel good about themselves. This is part of our memory as well. These are the few good things that are left in our culture. Why should someone come and take it away from us?
When referring to Hindu's or any other religion, please avoid using names like pagan and demonic. These were used at one time in the church but not anymore. If one has any doubts regarding this, please ask H.H. our patriarch about language use when it comes to other religions and denominations. Using these terms will also bring about a feeling of hatred and enmity among people. The right to celebrate or not to celebrate rests with the people. But we have no right in referring to anyone as demonic. I pray for the spirit of Onam, the feeling of oneness and the atmosphere of justice and peace to abide with us all. God bless.
Fr. Jerry Kurian
I.D. no. 4500
- May our Lord forgive me for the comments I made regarding onam. Fr. Jerry,I also ask for your forgiveness and anybody else that was offended by my post on Orthodoxy and Onam.