Indian Catholic News

Kerala pilgrim center renounces fireworks for poor

Kerala's famous Edathua St George Church has kept away the funds for fireworks to support homeless people.


The debate on whether to renounce fireworks and crackers for festivals has been raging in Kerala since the Puttingal temple tragedy a year ago killing 111 people and injuring over 350 others.

Many churches and temples are setting an example by shunning opulent festivities and spending the money saved on charitable causes.

The Edathua Perunnal, one of Kerala's most popular Christian festivals, toned down the festivities this year and raised 8 lakh rupees to help six homeless families construct houses.

Fr John Manakunnel, vicar of St George Forane Church under the Archdiocese of Changanacherry, said that this year's festival was among the best they have had so far. "The fireworks of Edathua Perunal were so famous that people across the globe come down to enjoy it.

However, the Puttingal tragedy was an eye-opener of sorts and that's why we decided to shun the crackers and fireworks," he said.

While he acknowledged that their move could have hurt the sentiments of many, he said, "We thought that through this small step, we can make a difference in society, save the environment and also stay away from danger."

The initiative was received positively by the devotees, he says.

"Along with the Rs 6 lakh we saved, the devotees collected Rs 2 lakh more and the entire amount was given to the homeless," said Fr John.

Similarly, the entire Thamarassery Diocese decided to give up firecrackers this year. Fr Thomas Nagaparambil, vicar of Marymatha Cathedral, Thamarassery, said, "We have been mulling over it for a while but were hesitant as church festivals are a matter of jubilation and many look forward to it. However, this year we decided to call off the firecrackers. Everybody realised that it is just a show of wealth."

All the 120 churches that come under the diocese soon followed suit.

"The celebrations give us happiness for a second. So we decided to do without it and help a few who were financially struggling, and give them permanent happiness. Houses are being built, students are being supported for their education and so on," Fr Thomas added.

Many temples also chose charity over fireworks. Thrikkapuram Devi Temple in Kaitharam, Ernakulam, decided to help cancer patients with the money they saved by avoiding firecrackers in this year's temple festival.

Source: Times of India

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