`Aum Yeshu Christhu ye namah': there is nothing blasphemous about it if a true Catholic wants to adore Jesus Christ through the Vedic mantra. On January 26, Bishop Stanley Roman of the Kollam diocese of the Catholic Church will inaugurate a Catholic church with a difference. He will celebrate the holy Mass seated in padmasanam posture to declare open the Jagat Jyothi Mandir, a meditation centre constructed by the Quilon Social Service Society (QSSS), at a serene location on the banks of Ashtamudi Lake at Parimanam near here.
Reminding one of Sri Buddha's Enlightenment, Jesus sits in padmasanam under a tree in the mandir. "The sitting posture represents enlightenment and symbolises a guru." The statue will be blessed by the Bishop. Above the padmasanam posture is a painting of the Last Supper, but with a difference. Here Jesus and the 12 Apostles sit on the floor with banana leaves spread out to be served with bread and wine. Two traditional lamps (kuthuvilakku) light up the room.
The walls of the mandir are decorated with symbols of `pancha boothas' and the four Gospels are represented as vulture (St. John), bull (St. Luke), lion (St. Mark) and angel (St. Matthew). Symbols of all religions are painted on the roof. In fact, the mandir looks like a typical Hindu temple with a 12-foot-tall stone lamp (kalvilaku) in front.
QSSS director and priest Romance Antony, who conceived the mandir, says that cultural adaptation is an approved policy of the Catholic Church.
The mandir is an experiment. Indian religious symbols such as `Aum' have universal value and these were adopted in Kollam diocese 25 years ago by the then Bishop the Late Jerome M. Fernandez.