KOCHI: Children were seen writing 'Sathyam' (truth) with their blood on a piece of paper at Kothamangalam Marthoma church in Kerala’s Ernakulam district last Sunday. Their index fingers were pricked and rubber bands were tied around it (to let more blood).
Around 25000 Sunday school students from various parishes across the state had gathered at Kothamangalam to pledge their allegiance to the Patriarch of Antioch.
This latest drama in the tussle between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions is drawing criticism from various quarters with well-known personalities saying that this tantamounts to exploiting the innocence of children.
"I do not believe that students on their own committed the act of piercing their fingertips. We know how kids get worried and behave with fear when they get slightly hurt with some cut or wound while playing. Therefore, this is not something the kids have done on their own, a compulsion from the third party, either the church organisers or someone else. For me, prompting the kids to do so is a criminal act," said writer Sara Joseph.
"God would never want his children to be hurt in any way. Even the Bible says whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all. It means they should have the innocence of a child. In many verses we can see God's love for children, he says do not hinder them from coming to Him; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them," said Sara Joseph.
However, social activist and psychologist Parvathy T, blamed the parents for brainwashing the kids and prompting them to engage in such acts. "Parents are the real culprits, they have no complaint in hurting their own children for religion. When people are battling to survive the economic recession we are facing, they evade such social commitments and encourage their children to engage in these acts. It is a very saddening reality," said Parvathy.
The Child Rights Commission has sought a report from the District Administration, District Child Protection Officer, and the police chief regarding the incident. "It is an offense if the act has been committed by children below 18 years of age. We have registered a suo motu case based on the news reports and action will be taken against organisers if any compulsion is reported," said P Suresh, chairman of the Child Rights Commission.
Based on the direction from the Commission, Ernakulam Rural SP K Karthik has sought a report from Muvattupuzha DySP about the incident.
Meanwhile, Jacobite vicar of the Kothamangalam church Fr Jose Paruthuvayalil said that nobody forced the kids to spill their blood. "Out of over 25000 students, only some were engaged in writing with their blood. We did not force anyone, they voluntarily came forward in pledging their allegiance to Patriarch of Antioch. People have several ways of expressing their faith, there are even those who are ready to sacrifice their life for faith," said Fr Jose.