THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: No marks to you if you thought next Christmas is on December 25, 2012. It’s on Saturday - January 7; in Russia and at Sreekariyam.
Come Saturday, the Mar Gregorios Mar Baselios Syrian Orthodox Church, Sreekariyam, will resonate with prayers and hymns celebrating Christ’s birth - Russian style.
Russian tourists in Thiruvananthapuram will join compatriots attached to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) for special prayers and Holy Mass at the church at 11.15 am. Russians celebrate Christmas on January 7 rather than December 25.
The Xmas celebrations are being organised jointly by the Honorary Russian Consulate in the city and the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church. ‘’Many countries following the Eastern Orthodox Rite such as Russia and Bulgaria use the Julian calendar, though many countries, including India, have replaced it with the Gregorian calendar. January 7 in the Gregorian calendar corresponds to December 25 in the Julian,’’ said Thiruvananthapuram Bishop of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, Gabriel Mar Gregorios.
Though it’s quite enthusiastic about the upcoming event, the Honorary Russian Consulate isn’t quite sure how many Russians are going to turn up on Saturday.
‘’We planned the event after inquiries came from Moscow as to where tourists can offer prayers on January 7. We’ve informed all the hotels in the city and in tourist hubs like Kovalam and Varkala. A notice has been posted at KKNPP also,’’ Honorary Russian Consul Ratheesh C Nair said.He said that this was the first time formal prayers and other celebrations were planned to mark the Russian Xmas here.
Twice before, Russian Orthodox priests had come down for leading the prayers at KKNPP, which is an Indo-Russian project.Ever since the Communist USSR broke up, Orthodox Christianity has been on a revival mode in Russia.
Today, Christmas is also a national holiday there. And in recent times, stronger ties have developed between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Syro-Malankara Orthodox Church in Kerala.
‘’The relationship between the two churches dates back centuries. Now it has strengthened,’’ Bishop Gabriel Mar Gregorios said.