Onam Unnan Bhagyam Veenam! Infant Jesus Shrine hosts ‘Onam’

Onam Unnan Bhagyam Veenam! Infant Jesus Shrine hosts ‘Onam’

Onam Unnan Bhagyam Veenam! Simbly Traditional! Simbly Religious! SimblyOnam- celebrated for the First time in the history of Infant Jesus Church-Bikkarnakatte with Zeal and Gaiety on Sunday, 18 September 2016

Mangaluru: The festival of Onam is an attribute of inter-religious harmony and a fact that Christians exist in the society with other people. This realization brings us to the fact that traditions and celebrations have to be done together. Togetherness can be fostered only when we celebrate it together. Onam, in particular, is not the festival of the other, the unknown, the infidel or the pagan. Onam is the festival of all because it talks of a king who fought injustice and encouraged equality. Mahabali’s sacrifice is a reminder that all have to stand up against injustice. It is not an option, as justice can never be an option. Justice can only be attained by fighting collectively. Justice is the precursor to peace. So for peace, we all have to strive for justice.

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With that intention, the Clergy at the Shrine and Franklin Monteiro, a devotee and an active volunteer at the Shrine had come up,with a unique idea to host “Onam” celebration during a Sunday mass. Indeed a great initiative to bring togetherness between two communities. No doubt strange things are happening at the Infant Jesus Shrine lately- apart from the devotion, prayers, counselling etc, we have witnessed a “Raksha (Rakhi) Bandhan celebration, inviting the members of local RSS to join in the Monthi Fest, and the clergy of the Shrine later taking part in the Ganeshostsava celebrations hosted by RSS at Sanghaniketan- and now the Shrine has hosted the Onam celebration. Following the Mass, there was a sumptuous breakfast with mouth-watering goodies- and thereafter there was lots of fun and frolic, including games, of which one game was breaking the earthen pot filled with goodies/flowers blindfolded.

As they say better late than never, Onam which fell on 14 September was celebrated at Infant Jesus Shrine on Sunday, 18 September at 9 am, with a con-celebrated mass by Fr Linesh Chacko, a Diocesan priest, along with Fr Justin and Fr Jais, both Carmelites of Mother Immaculate (CMI) congregation. Although the faithful didn’t show up in large numbers, due to preponed exams for nursing students, everything went on well. Fr Chacko in his homily said, “Onam is the time that people in Kerala believe that Mahabali visits them and they want it to be a special time when there is a lot of sharing and coming together of families and communities. People belonging to all religions celebrate this as Mahabali is seen as a leader of all people.”

He further said, “Mahabali can be seen on similar lines with Jesus because of the way Jesus positioned himself and how he was done away with by high priests because he stated doing things which they thought were meant for God and were anyway disturbing their well-established system. Mahabali and Jesus are similar because-Both Mahabali and Jesus were leaders who were passionate about equal rights and justice; Both of them sacrificed their lives for the sake of their subjects; Their commitment goes beyond the earthly life. Those who believed in their ideology, especially the poor and the oppressed were not left to fend for themselves. Their commitment to ensure justice leads them to extend their involvement beyond life as we see it here; Both of them are done in by a conspiracy and although they agree to being sacrificed are actually murdered in cold blood; and Both Mahabali and Jesus offer hope as can be seen in the past, present and future.”

Fr Chacko concluded saying, “This festival is a festival of love and unity. Therefore it reminds us that we need to love others unconditionally like Jesus and serve others without any distinction on the ground of sex, religion, creed, colour etc. In doing so we can truly love God and one another in our everyday life.”

Well said by Fr Chacko, thereby spreading the meaning of Onam and trying to unite both Keralites and Mangaloreans. Truly speaking it was a great initiative taken by the Clergy of the Shrine in hosting Onam to have close interaction of two communities-Keralites and Mangaloreans. “Life becomes a festival when gaiety and culture blend.Onam delivers the message of both.”- and this quote became reality as “OnamFeast” was celebrated with zeal and gaiety at the Shrine.

The Mass was followed by a sumptuous breakfast with mouth-watering delicacies- after which there were few games, fun and frolic, among which one game was breaking the hanging pot filled with goodies/flowers blindfolded- and it was fun to watch the participants struggling to hit the right spot. Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Fr Joe Tauro-Superior at St Joseph’s Monastery( Infant Jesus Shrine) said, ” Since 1965 we have been working hard to help these Kerala Catholic Community who had come down to Mangaluru to work on fishing boats, Fish cleaning, and other fishing duties. We arranged Mass for them and also tried to unify them. Many Keralites had migrated to Mangaluru then, and we tried to entertain them and make them feel homely, They were renewed with vigor, and today’s event helped them to unleash their culture and tradition and share it with us. We are planning on forming an association of these Keralite Catholics in the nearest future”. Franklin Monteiro also shared his views stating that by organizing events like these we can bring unity, love and friendship between different communities.

In conclusion, “Thiruonam Aashamsakal”! (“To everyone, Onam Wishes” !) Vibrant and joyous festival of Onam was celebrated with lot of zeal and joy at the Shrine. The spirit of harmony and brotherhood prevailed and the most remarkable feature of this harvest festival was its secular character. The programme was filled with enthusiasm and exhibited the grand cultural extravaganza. A spirit of brotherhood and good will was apparent. Extending belated Onam greetings from Team Mangalorean, we say, “Onaashmsakal to you! Ella Malayalikalum Onam Unnanam”. May the spirit of Onam appear everywhere at all times!!

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