Thiruvananthapuram, April 1 (IANS) Palm Sunday has ushered in Passion Week for devout Christians all over Kerala who are set to participate in the rituals that the holy week brings.
The day is celebrated to commemorate Jesus Christ's entry into Jerusalem on a donkey and it is said that people there lay down their cloaks and small branches of trees in front of him. This day sees a feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter.
Christians abstain from eating non-vegetarian for the entire lent period of 40 days that ends with Easter Sunday.
In many churches, Palm Sunday is marked by the distribution of palm leaves (often tied into crosses) among assembled worshippers. The palms that are distributed are either cut from coconut trees in the church compound or are brought in by devotees the previous day and kept in the church.
The faithful, after getting the palms, return home and keep it near the picture of Christ till Christmas - after which it is returned to the church.
In earlier years many Christian households observed Palm Sunday with only gruel (watery rice) and pickle for lunch till a day before Easter.
'The sanctity of Passion Week, which used to be there in my younger days, is no longer seen. At that time, in our homes no one would even use milk in tea or coffee during the 40-day lent. Does that happen now?' asked 80-year-old Chinnama Thomas after attending the Sunday mass in Kottayam, about 160 km from here.
Districts in central Kerala, home to a large number of Christians who make up 22 percent of the state's 32 million population, look upon Palm Sunday with a lot of reverence.
Catholics, the dominant group, comprise 50 percent of 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.
Starting Sunday, the devotees would make it a point to attend the mass that will be held everyday until Easter.