Bible reading in Ramayana month in god's own country

Rich tradition in Kerala

For the first time, members of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church began to observe the “month of scarcity’’ as Bible month.

This means that just as Hindus read the Ramayana during the course of the month to ward off bad days, the Bible will also be read by Orthodox Christians till the month ends.

Intensive exercise

Confirming this to Deccan Herald, Fr K M George, principal of the Orthodox Seminary, Kottayam, said that the aim was to encourage Bible reading as an intensive exercise.

The Ramayana reading exercise which begins on the first day of the month and ends on its last day began several decades ago when agriculture was the mainstay of the people.

With the paddy fields flooded, people were jobless and their coffers were empty.

In those days people used to depend entirely on the grains they had stored during the previous harvest season to get over the bad days.

Month of scarcity

The rain was so heavy that few ventured outside their house or village to earn a living.
Being ‘panja masam’ or the month of scarcity, Hindus thus began to look up to the Ramayana to ward off the nature’s fury.

Though the tradition has waned over the years with the advent of modernity and collapse of paddy cultivation, old-timers still follow the Ramayana recitation.

Sources said that it was the Martha Mariam Samajam, a women’s outfit in the Orthodox Church which had been observing Karkidakam as Bible reading month for the last two years.

Reading of scriptures

However, Fr George said that the Bible was not a holy book being read only for a month.
“The holy scriptures are read every day and during Sunday mass.

Unlike Ramayana, I don’t think Bible can also be chanted entirely,’’ he said.

Nevertheless, parishes and homes will set aside 720 hours to complete reading the holy book during Karkidakam, the last month in the Malayalam calendar.

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