ANDHRA PRADESH

Call for religious unity

HYDERABAD, MARCH 11. No candles but only lighting of the traditional lamp. Indianness imbibed into Christianity was more glaring at the public meeting organised interestingly in the newly-built St. Andrews church of the Orthodox Syrian Christians at S ecunderabad here tonight.

The church was the cynosure for the evening not only for its elegance showing up a heavy and historical bell on its steeple or for embellishments of festoons and illumination but also for its location by the side of a Ganesh temple. Mikes from the church blared out the Biblical hymns which mingled with the Vedic recital from the temple in perfect harmony.

After darshan at the temple, a few families thronged the church. After all, the rituals, way of dress and insignias of these particular Christians are akin to the Indian culture unlike in the case of other denominations. They are the descendants of the earliest Christian families in Kerala baptised by St. Thomas, disciple of Christ, who reached the Indian shores 19 years after the Crucifixion.

Schemes for the poor

Speaking from the pulpit flanked by the two Ministers, N. Narasimha Reddy and M. Marappa, two local MLAs and heads or lay leaders of the different other church sects, the Catholicose-designate and Malankara Metropolitan, Thomas Mar Thimothios, greeted the congregation with "namaskaram" and announced new schemes for the poor. Aptly, most church heads spoke of the need for unity of religions.

Mr Reddy praised Christians for their service in educational and medical sectors and for "ushering in secularism in India". Mr Marappa stressed the need for practising Christ's preaching of `love thy neighbour'. Fr C. A. Isac and Thomas John, president and general convener of the church, spoke on the service activities of the church.

Relics of two saints of the sect, Gregorios of Parumala and Dionisious of Vattasseril, will be installed at the altar of the church on Sunday after consecration.

The Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy, who was to attend today's function, could not make it.