The annual eight-day lent in connection with the birth anniversary of Saint Mary was observed with piety at various churches in Pathanamthitta district on Thursday. The faithful observe the lent from September 1 to 8.

Hundreds of Marian devotees attended the event. Rituals such as ‘urulicha,' ‘adima vazhipadu, etc., were performed at certain churches on Thursday. Hindus were among those who turned up to attend the ceremonies.

Urulicha, resembling the ‘sayanapradikshanam' at Hindu temples, was performed at St. George's Orthodox Church at Kallumkal near Thiruvalla in the forenoon. According to T.M. Joseph, trustee of the church, the Kallumkal church is the first parish in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church to celebrate the birthday feast of the Theotokos, way back in 1942.

Women devotees taking a round of the church on their knees (`muttinmel-izhayal') and the faithful carrying weight on their head in the holy raza held after the holy Eucharist were the other rituals performed at the church. The church is known for its special rituals with a Hindu touch.

The rituals came to a close with serving of jaggery-rice in teak leaves to the faithful.

Paulose Mar Pachomios, Metropolitan of the Mavelikara diocese, was the chief celebrant of the holy Eucharist held in the forenoon. Fr. Aby Abraham and Fr. Varghese Panackamattom were the co-celebrants.

The feast was celebrated at Mary Matha Catholic Church at Pathanamthitta, St. John's Malankara Catholic Church at Kadammanitta, St. Mary's Malankara Catholic Church at Oottupara near Konni, St. Mary's Orthodox Church at Kallooppara, St. George's Orthodox Church at Paliyekkara, St. Mary's Orthodox Church at Adoor-Karuvatta, St. Mary's Church at Puthenpeedika, and St. Mary's Valiyapalli founded by St Thomas the Apostle at Niranom.