Udupi: Christians in the district observed Maundy Thursday to commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist by Jesus Christ with church services in the evening.
It was at the Last Supper while celebrating the Passover festival with his disciples that Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist. Jesus also washed and kissed the feet of his disciples as an act of humility. Catholic churches also commemorated this act with the chief celebrant of the Maundy Thursday mass by washing the feet of 12 lay persons. At the Milagres Cathedral Kallianpur, the Bishop of Udupi Diocese Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo performed this ritual.
Pope Francis changed the rules and included women and girls to the dozen people whose feet are ceremoniously washed in each church on Holy Thursday. As per the Pope’s decree Udupi bishop Gerald Isaac Lobo washed the feet of 12 people, including 7 women (6 lay and 1 religious nun) at the Milagres Cathedral. The same gesture was followed across the diocese.
According to Bishop Gerald, the diocese has directed the parishes that the priests could add anyone including women and children to the group to take part in the feet-washing ceremony. “Parish priests are free to take a decision on the matter. The diocese directed the parish priests that they could allow women and nuns to take part in the rite,” he said.
The faithful take the washing of the feet ritual as a message of Christ’s humility and service. Maundy Thursday also symbolizes Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. To commemorate this agony, night vigils are held in Catholic churches and the vigils usually go on till the commencement of the Good Friday services in the evening of the next day.
Maundy Thursday is followed by Good Friday, the day on which the crucifixion and death of Christ is commemorated. The Way of the Cross to commemorate the Passion of Christ is one of the most important rituals of the Good Friday ceremonies at Catholic churches.
The ‘washing of feet’ ceremony was also held at various churches like Shirva, Udupi,Belman, Sasthan, Brahamvar, Kundapur, Basrur and other places with special service.