Kerala Christians observe Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the final Sunday before Easter, celebrated as the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion.

Districts in central Kerala, home to a large number of Christians who make up 22 percent of the state's 32 million population, celebrate Palm with religious fervour.

Churches distribute palm leaves to commemorate Jesus Christ's entry into Jerusalem when palm branches were placed in his path, before his arrest and crucifixion on Good Friday.

"Over the years the number of Christians who observe the lent seriously has come down. One is expected to be completely vegetarian during the period that ends with Easter. Even milk and eggs are avoided," said Joseph Thomas, 85, a retired professor in Kottayam.

According to him, the sanctity of the ritual has been lost and most people take it lightly. In the past, most Christian households used to have only "kanji" (rice gruel) with pickle for lunch throughout the Passion Week, he recalled.

On Good Friday, after the mass, the church serves the steaming hot "kanji" to everyone who comes for the service. Catholics are the dominant group in Kerala, comprising 50 percent of the Christians in the state, followed by the Orthodox Church with a population of around 2.5 million.

Jacobites, Mar Thoma, the Church of South India and the Pentecostal churches make up the rest.

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