Kerala

Women celebrate washing the feet

A member of Women's Lives Matter celebrating the washing the feet ceremony with the inmates of Swanthanam Centre for battered Women and children at kottayam on Tuesday   | Photo Credit: VishnuPrathap

For this small group of women, it’s not only a celebration of a centuries-old Christian ritual but also an act of assertion by an increasingly marginalised segment of Christian society of their ecclesiastical rights.

On Tuesday, half a dozen members of a Kottayam-based ecumenical women’s group, Women’s Lives Matter (WLM), held the washing the feet ceremony, so far confined to the realm of baptised men and boys, with inmates of Swanthanam, the centre for battered women and children here.

The ceremony is normally held on Maundy Thursday by priests in symbolic representation of the act of Jesus who had washed the feet of his 12 disciples prior to the Last Supper, as per the Bible.

Call of Pope

The ritual had become the focus of attention in recent times when Pope Francis included people from all walks of life, both men and women, young and old, in the ceremony from 2013 onwards.

In spite of this change being made public through the document ‘Decree on Holy Thursday’s Foot Washing Ceremony’ in January 2016, the Syro-Malabar Church has taken the stance that it would stick to the tradition.

According to Kochurani Abraham of the WLM, Tuesday’s ceremony was inspired by the initiative of the Pope.

“The ritual was a means of taking the message of forgiveness, acceptance and mutual care outside the boundaries of the church’s ritual worship,” she said.

She hoped the celebration would help the ecclesiastical leadership to revisit their earlier decision to stick to tradition.

The celebration at Swanthanam began with the members of WLM washing the feet of 12 inmates of the Centre, followed by children washing the feet of elders and then each other. Susan Thomas, Kochurani Abraham, Sheeba Tharakan, Jessy John and Jaisy Karingattil of the WLM led the ceremony.

Ceremony in Kochi

Special Correspondent writes from Kochi: The Open Church Movement will organise the washing of the feet of 12 women on Maundy Thursday as part of its efforts to support Pope Francis’s call for including women among those whose feet are washed during the Maundy Thursday ceremonies.

A statement issued by the Open Church Movement called on everyone to join the ceremonies on Thursday at the IMA Hall, near Maharaja’s College Grounds.

The statement described as “sad” the stance by Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal George Alencherry that women need not be included among those whose feet are washed during the Maundy Thursday ceremonies.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 2:20:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/women-celebrate-washing-the-feet-ceremony/article17928571.ece

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