section of the laity at the St. George Orthodox Syrian Cathedral
in the capital city are up in arms following what they term "a
violation" which took place when Communist Party of India-Marxist
politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan walked up to the altar to
greet the bishop.
The incident took place at the end of last month, when former home
minister and CPI-M legislator Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was at the
church to attend a wedding.
When Bishop Gabriel Mar Gregorios was at the altar, Balakrishnan
came to the altar and had a brief chat with him before leaving the
On Sunday morning, after the service in the church, a memorandum
expressing anguish over this incident was signed by parishioners
for submission to the supreme head of the Orthodox Syrian Church
"Today (Sunday) morning, after service, a member of the church
came with a letter addressed to our supreme head citing this
incident. I put my signature on the memorandum because what
happened is a serious lapse as far as the tradition of the church
is concerned. We wish that such incidents do not take place. I saw
that numerous people had signed the memorandum," said a member of
the church who did not wish to be identified.
According to the Orthodox Syrian Church's traditions, apart from
priests, those who enter the altar of the church must first
receive a special blessing.
A senior priest of the Orthodox Church told IANS that he too heard
of this episode, but found it pointless to blow it up.
"Yes, the rule is that only those who receive special blessings
can be at the altar. At the same time, there is also a rule that
only those who are baptised can enter our church. But tell me, can
that happen? We have so many people from other faiths coming to
our churches, especially for weddings and funerals. This
controversy is needless," the priest, who requested anonymity,
Incidentally, this is also the church where Chief Minister Oommen
Chandy attends Sunday service.