Tigers, jumbos force parishes on forest fringes to wind up Xmas festivities early in Kerala

The tragic end of Prajeesh, a dairy farmer, who was killed and partially eaten by a tiger at Mudakolly in Wayanad in December is still fresh in the memory of parishioners.
Christmas celebration
Christmas celebration

KOCHI: With the entire state caught up in the spirit of yuletide, parishes located on the forest fringes of Wayanad and Idukki have been asked to wind up festivities early on Christmas Eve due to fear of marauding elephants and ferocious tigers.

Around 161 parishes under the Mananthavady diocese and 60 parishes under the eparchy of Idukki have decided to conclude midnight mass before 10 pm on Christmas Eve to ensure the safety of the faithful. 

The tragic end of Prajeesh, a dairy farmer, who was killed and partially eaten by a tiger at Mudakolly in Wayanad in December is still fresh in the memory of parishioners. Though the tiger has since been caught, people are still in fear of stepping out of their houses after nightfall. In Idukki, frequent sightings of wild elephants and tigers on forest fringes have spread fear among residents. 

“Areas like Mananthavady, Sultan Bathery and Nilambur fall under the Mananthavady diocese and incidents of wild animals straying into human habitations have increased in recent times. As we consider the safety of people more important than festivities, Bishop Jose Porunnedam has advised 161 parishes located in forest fringe areas to start the midnight mass around 8 pm and wind up the celebrations by 10 pm. He wants to ensure that all parishioners return home safely after the midnight mass,” said Mananthavady diocese Chancellor Fr Anoop Kaliyaniyil. 

‘Patrolling to be strengthened on Christmas eve’

“People are afraid of stepping out during night hours and we have noticed a decline in several people attending the midnight mass in recent years. So Bishop of Idukki diocese Mar John Nellikunnel has advised around 60 parishes located close to the forest boundary to start the midnight mass around 8 pm and ensure that all parishioners reach home by 10 pm,” said Idukki diocese vicar general Fr Abraham Purayattu. 

Forest authorities said patrolling will be strengthened on Christmas eve and the residents will be alerted in case of the presence of wild animals.

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