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