A PROMINENT Catholic Church in Kerala is in correction mode. The Major Archiepiscopal Assembly of the Syro Malabar Church has warned against extravaganza in celebrations, especially weddings, saying these should not be an “occasion to display wealth and power”. It is also learnt to have discussed adopting a dress code for weddings and attending church.
A meeting of Bishops, which will take up the suggestions made by the body, is expected to issue directions on the number of guests that can be invited for weddings or other functions, the dress code for the bride and bridegroom, limits on expenses on beautifying exteriors of churches and its institutions, banning fireworks at church feasts, and restrictions on clothes, meals and gadgets used by pastors.
“Marriage celebrations have become opportunities to publicise status and wealth of families and their relatives. The number of people attending the wedding celebrations and the beauty of invitation cards have become the standards of measuring success of a wedding. Very lavish wedding dresses, elaborate and expensive jewellery and event management have made weddings a spectacle of waste and extravagance,” said the 84-page document on “Response of the Church to the Challenges of Today”, adopted at the assembly on August 25-28.
Quoting reports, the Church body said more than 800 tonnes of gold are bought for weddings in Kerala, while poor girls are finding it difficult to get married. “The Commission for the Welfare of Women has recently asked why weddings cannot be conducted with 10 sovereigns (80 grams) of gold. We also have to limit the number of invitees for weddings. Won’t it be more attractive if we have only 200 invitees instead of 1,000 or 1,500,” it asked.
There are instructions on church construction too. “The huge amount of money spent for enhancing the external beauty of churches is not helpful in preserving the spiritual atmosphere,” it said, adding that the institutions should not “promote glory and prestige” in such a way that it leads to “unhealthy competition.”
Asking bishops and priests to adopt a simple lifestyle, it said: “Pastors have to exemplify in their lives the lifestyle of simplicity. They have to follow simplicity in dress, meals, travels and the gadgets they use… It would be good for pastors to use public transportation at least occasionally.”
Father Jimmy Poochakkatt, spokesperson of Syro Malabar Church, said the Bishops Synod, which is currently meeting, could come out with instructions. He said the assembly, which included bishops, priests and eminent personalities, also discussed the need for a dress code for weddings and for attending church. “There is a dress code for baptism and first holy communion. We are thinking we can adopt one for the bride and bridegroom so that expenses can be restricted,” he said.
Supreme Court Judge Kurian Joseph, who addressed the assembly, said a “uniform dress” for wedding would bring in simplicity. “There is a dress for baptism, there is one when you become a nun or a priest. So why can’t there be a uniform dress for marriage? It will avoid extravaganza and bring in simplicity. Everyone, rich, poor and middle class should be using the uniform for the wedding function,” Justice Joseph said.