What does a Church do when a part of its property is earmarked for road widening? Build a Shrine or a memorial monument (Smriti Mandapam) there so that nobody touches it. Well, that’s exactly what the St. George Orthodox Syrian Cathedral at Palayam in Thiruvananthapuram is doing.
One side of the church property, parallel to the road from Spencer Junction to Jacobs Junction on Punnen Road was marked for road widening years ago. The marking runs through the middle of the church office (palli meda), the sextons (kappyaar) residence and the parsonage (vicarage).
The Church road is a very important road in the capital city for diverting traffic from MG Road towards East Fort whenever there is a block / march / dharana in front of Secretariat, which happens almost every day.
The present Managing Committee has built a shrine or a memorial monument, as they call it, to house the holy relics of a Saint. The shrine was consecrated on October 23 & 24. An amount of Rs. Eight lakhs was collected from members for this event which was used as an occasion to show off the strength of the Orthodox community here.
In fact, whenever we spoke of building a large church as we have about 1,400 families and the present church building is insufficient, we were always given the road widening as a reason not to build or renovate the old structure.
By the way, this is not the first time that this church is doing things illegally. When land was acquired for the widening of MG Road a few years back, they extended their front boundary wall by over 3 feet than was originally marked, courtesy the adjacent South Park hotel, who also encroached onto the road.
The church also has an unauthorised rooftop hall (with about 750 seating capacity) on their Gregorian Building across the road which they rent out illegally.
Now coming to the installation of the holy relics, with no offences or disrespect meant to the great saint, I am sure Parumala Thirumeni must be turning in his graves as Parishes compete to install his holy relics. If this trend continues, very soon we will have to start manufacturing them. Isn’t it time we stop this farce? The less said about this nonsense, the better. Listen to what a learned Priest of our own church as to say about this.
Click here to read how leading Malayalam news portal Marunadan Malayali covered this issue.
Very recently the Traffic Police has put barricades along the entire stretch from Spencer Junction to Jacobs Junction to stop people from parking on the road in order to avoid congestion. And things are not going to improve as and when the construction of the Light Metro project begins.