Kerala Christian funerals overly pompous? Reform group cries foul
The group also promotes organ donation in the community.
KOCHI: Event managers have replaced undertakers as Christian funerals turn overly pompous, with live streaming, open air-conditioned vans and exotic flower decorations forming part of the package. An activists’ group working for reformation in Christianity has cried foul and called a gathering in Kochi, hoping to bring about a change and make the affair minimalistic. The group also promotes organ donation in the community.
The members of Joint Christian Council (JCC), a federation of organisations, say the movement is also against the clergy, who they say, are using the sacraments as a bargaining tool to garner donations and funds.“In the name of the holy sacraments, the faithful are forced to being slaves to the religion. Indoctrination from a young age on the ideas of ‘life after death’ and ‘happy afterlife in heaven’ is responsible for the existing spiritual slavery. It’s not right. Even if there is heaven, the person should lead a happy life with good deeds when he is alive. This should be the interpretation of the afterlife. We are making an attempt to spread such a thought,” said JCC president Felix J Pulladan.
“Most Church denominations teach that admission to heaven is facilitated only through the funeral conducted by a priest, with burial in a church cemetery. It is to free the faithful from spiritual slavery that we are organising such an event,” said Pulladan.The pompous funerals are putting pressure on middle-class families.
“Some priests insist that only certain music bands be hired. Priests joining funerals without prior intimation has become increasingly common and they all expect to be given money in envelopes!,” said C V Varghese, a parish council member in Kottayam.“The faithful are emotionally and psychologically the most vulnerable at their parents’ or relatives’ funeral. Customs and rituals have been so twisted in order to force them under the Church’s diktat in such a situation. We are trying to bring about a change to this. One should be free to decide the way his/her funeral ceremonies are to be held. This should not be decided by the Church,” said Felix.
While the past few decades have witnessed a slight change in the community’s mentality, a majority are forced to obey what the priests say.
“People blindly trust their parish priests, and are taken advantage of, in many cases. The truth should be brought out in the open and everyone should be made aware of the facts. It is not necessary that funeral ceremonies be performed only at Churches. Also, the body that gets decayed in the grave after the funeral could give a new lease of life to many others if its organs are donated,” said JCC general secretary Jacob Mathew.