NAGAPATTINAM: The spirit of Palm Sunday was missing as people could not venture out due to the lockdown. There were no gatherings, no waving of palm fronds and no singing of Hosanna in the Highest on the streets. “When churches did not celebrate Palm Sunday today, how could we? We did not decorate our houses with palm fronds as we like them to blessed by our church. We missed going to mass today,” said JK Jayanthi, a 50-year-old homemaker in Semmarakadai Street in Nagapattinam.
Palm Sunday is celebrated to mark the day when the Jerusalemites welcomed Jesus Christ into their city with palm fronds in their hands on the Sunday before Passover. Christians collect palm fronds blessed by priests, decorating their houses, holding palm frond processions around churches and making crafts out of them. None of this could take place on Sunday due to the shutdown of places of worship on account of the lockdown and coronavirus.
“We did not distribute palm fronds which we cut from our garden and blessed to anyone as we were concerned it could lead to an unnecessary gathering. We conducted three masses in Tamil, Malayalam and English behind closed doors without people. The masses will be relayed live on YouTube throughout this week,” said Fr AMA Prabakar, Rector of the Shrine Basilica in Velankanni. The senior priest also delivered a sermon via YouTube.
Velankanni Shrine Basilica was decorated on Sunday with palm fronds to encourage the faithful to follow the masses on YouTube. However, many small churches could not do or afford the luxury. “Parishioners do everything for us. We did not decorate anything. We finished off with a single mass with a handful of nuns and church workers behind closed doors in the wee hours,” said Fr D Arokia Sagayaraj, of Our Lady of Angels Church in Karaikal.