With solemn church services in the evening, Christians in the district observed Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter Sunday) to commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist by Jesus Christ.

It was at the Last Supper while celebrating the Passover festival with his disciples that Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist with bread and wine. It was also at the Last Supper that Jesus washed and kissed the feet of his disciples as an act of humility. Catholic churches also commemorated this act with the chief celebrant of the Maundy Thursday mass washing and kissing the feet of 12 lay persons. At the Infant Jesus Cathedral Church, Kollam Bishop Stanley Roman performed the ritual.

One of the most striking traditions of Holy Week rituals, the faithful take the washing of the feet ritual as a message of Christ’s humility and service. Maundy Thursday also symbolises Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. To commemorate this agony, night vigils are held in Catholic churches and the vigils usually go on till the commencement of the Good Friday services next day.

The faithful attended the Maundy Thursday rituals in strength not only for the evening mass but even the night vigil services. Christians also observe the day by having unleavened home-made bread as a meal after the mass. Maundy Thursday is followed by Good Friday the day on which the crucifixion and death of Christ is commemorated.

The ‘way of the cross’ to commemorate the Passion of Christ is one of the most important rituals of the Good Friday ceremonies at Catholic churches. Many churches organise this ritual through streets and thousands of the faithful take part in it. Through the route of the way of the cross ritual, the fourteen Stations of the Cross depicting fourteen scenes in the passion of Christ is also erected.

The faithful halt at each station for prayers and also to listen to a sermon from a priest. Two of the important ‘way of the cross’ rituals in the city are the ones organised by the Thope Saint Stephen’s Parish Church and at Tangasseri organised jointly by the Infant Jesus Cathedral and the Holy Cross parish church.

Staff Reporter writes from Pathanamthitta: Maundy Thursday was observed with religious fervour at various Churches in central Travancore on Thursday.

Bishops as well as priests washing the feet of faithful, recalling Jesus Christ washing the feet of his 12 disciples during the last supper, was the main attraction of the special service held at various churches in different parts of the district.

Metropolitan Archbishop of Thiruvalla, Thomas Mar Coorilos, led the service at the St Mary’s Malankara Catholic Church at Thottabhagom near Thiruvalla in the afternoon. The Archbishop said Maundy Thursday stood for the Lord’s Supper or Communion or Eucharist which means `thanksgiving’.

The Archbishop said ‘love one another’ is the central theme of the holy eucharist as it being the commandment given by Jesus to his disciples while establishing the holy service at the ‘thanksgiving’ Last Supper.

The Maundy Thursday observance at the famous St Paul’s and St Peter’s Church on the banks of river Pampa at Parumala was led by Thomas Mar Athanaseus Metropolitan. The Metropolitan washed the feet of the faithful amidst the holy eucharist attended by hundreds of believers.

Believers were served with wine and bread, taking it to be the blood and body of Jesus Christ.

St John’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Thiruvalla, Kurisumala Church at Perinad, Infant Jesus Feronah Church at Ranni, St Peter’s Cathedral in Pathanamthitta, St. George Orthodox Church at Konni, Sacred Heart Church at Mylapra, Manjanikkara Mor Ignatius Diara Church, St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral at Thumpamon, and St. Mary’s Orthodox Church at Kallooppara, were among those churches where the feet-washing rite was performed as part of Maundy Thursday in the afternoon.

Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ will be observed at various churches on Friday and Easter Sunday, the day of his resurrection, will be celebrated on Sunday.