MUSCAT: It was a tense afternoon at the Pampakuda Valiya Palli where a solemn occasion was being held. Tears filled the eyes of the bride’s aged mother while the severely handicapped father was being wheeled to the church with the guests and well-wishers gathered to witness the holy matrimony. The bride’s parents were waiting for this big moment in their life when their daughter was going through the marriage vows.
The occasion was the marriage of financially backward boys and girls of the Malankara Orthodox church through the Thanal (shelter) Project of Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat.
The vicar and the managing committee of the Muscat Church had decided to conduct the marriages of poor backward men and women of Orthodox Church through ‘Thanal’ Marriage Aid Project during 2009-2010. The target was to organise 10 marriages for this year. But in a great show of altruistic activity by the church members, the amount collected was more than sufficient to conduct at least 13 marriages.
As such two marriages were held in Pampakuda Valiya Palli on January 10, 2010, another marriage in Parimala Church on January 11 and two others at the St Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Sulthan Bathery (Wayanad district) on January 14. Cash was distributed to eight eligible and recently married poor couples as per the decision of the church managing committee. Totally, 13 families reaped the benefits of the project for 2009-2010.
A sum of over Riyal Omani (RO) 17,000 was collected by the church from its members over a period of 8 to 10 months. Fr James Geevarghese, Vicar, Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat says the church was flooded with hundreds of applicants and only the “truly worthy and deserving” ones got selected. Each of the financially backward Orthodox women was given Rs one lakh and other gifts.
The proceeds of the Mar Gregorios Charity Fund and the charity boxes kept at the members’ homes and the amount collected is distributed among the poor and needy applicants from various dioceses in India, through the respective metropolitans.
Metropolitan Abraham Mar Epiphanios of Sulthan Bathery graced the occasion at Sulthan Bathery. Metropolitan Dr Mathews Mar Severios of Kandanad West and Secretary of the Holy Episcopal Synod blessed the marriage ceremony at Pampakuda Valiya Palli.
Fr James Geevarghese, Trustee T J Joseph and other senior members of the Muscat Church namely Geevarghese Yohannan, Mathew Ninan, Thomas K C and others attended the simple function.
Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat is well known among the Orthodox diocese for its charity contributions. The church’s other Thanal projects include fund for housing projects, fund for education (called Muscat Education Fund), Medical Aid Fund, Fund for Self employment and funds for other charitable projects.
The Marriage Aid Project during the previous years had also concentrated on the dioceses of Sulthan Bathery, Malabar, Idukki and Kandanad. During the tenure of Fr Shaji M Baby (ex-vicar of Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat) such marriages for the poor were also held in 2005-2006.