PALAKKAD: They lived differently. In death, they found a common ground. For decades now, the cemetery belonging to Christian Association at Paitankunnu in Dhoni here has been the final resting place of the faithful from nine Episcopal Church denominations and 19 Pentecostal Church denominations. In fact, the members of each denomination have been coexisting with each other since then.
“The Christian Association purchased the land for the cemetery, spread over an acre, and registered it in 1969. In 1971, the District Collector’s permission was obtained for the burial ground,” said association president Fr Sebastian Tamarassery.
Initially, the cemetery was shared by four Episcopal denominations – Catholic, Jacobite (undivided at the time), Marthoma and CSI. After the Orthodox and Jacobite factions parted ways, the cemetery was additionally shared by the Malankara, Latin and the Jacobite denominations. Its maintenance is also done jointly by all the denominations.
“The cemetery can accommodate 490 graves. Of this, 130 graves are earmarked for the 19 denominations of the Pentecostal Church, said Fr Sebastian.
After receiving necessary sanctions, the cemetery was converted into a full-fledged burial ground under the leadership of former office bearers of the association Varkey Puthur and Jacob Mathew Ponmala, said Oomen Sankaramangalam, the secretary.
The St Joseph’s Catholic Church and St George Jacobite Church had been established in the locality in 1958. The Marthoma Church was established in 1964, while the CSI Church in 1965. The churches of Dhoni and Akathethara later separated from the St Joseph’s Church in 1983 and 1996, respectively. The Malankara Catholic Church and Latin Catholic Church also separated from St Joseph’s Church in 1991 and 2017, respectively.
The Orthodox denomination parted from the Jacobite faction in 1982. AT present, there are nine Episcopal churches in the Olavakkode area.
Joint Xmas celebrations
Since 2014, all nine Episcopal denominations have been jointly celebrating Christmas here. Applications for medical assistance from all the churches are also dealt with collectively and the amounts are sanctioned together.
Aiding kidney patients
For the first time, the Christian Association has joined hands with the Kidney Federation of India headed by Fr Davis Cherammel this year to provide succour to kidney patients, said Johnson Cheeramban, joint secretary of the association.