Mumbai: The faithful of the Christ the King Church, Bhandup Parish, had an outstanding experience during the feast of St. Sebastian. The highlight of this year’s celebration was the 18 feet long ‘Vazha pindi’ (banana tree) erected at the entrance of the church, which added colour to the grand procession and the Holy Mass.
St. Thomas Catholics in Mumbai generally celebrate the feast of St. Sebastian along with the celebration of Denha (Epiphany in the Latin Church). The word Epiphany in Syrian language is known as ‘Denha’ which means ‘dawn’ and this feast is celebrated to commemorate the Baptism of Our Lord. Pindi Perunnal or Rakkuli Perunal are the local names used in most regions of Kerala, for the feast of Epiphany. Pindikuthiperunnal’ originated from the practice of going around the ‘vazhapindi’ (Banana Tree) decorated with lights and singing ‘God is light’ commemorating Jesus the light of the world. A specially decorated plantain trunk is erected in front of houses with many torches attached to it.
“Last time we had a decorated ‘vazhapindi’ (Banana Tree) of 18ft. So this year’s feast day celebrating committee team was searching for a taller one. At last they managed to get one with tireless search”, says Fr. Jomet, the parish Priest of the Christ the King Church, Bhandup. This tall and decorated banana tree not only attracted the attention of faithful but also hundreds of neighbours and many who passed by the Church. Many times it so happened that, a lot of people from other faiths who paseed by the church wanted to know the reason for erecting the ‘vazhapindi’; and this became a reason for many parishioners to proclaim Jesus. “I have been asked multiple times by passer-by’s, and this gave me a reason to narrate the story of Jesus and St Sebastian, thus evangelising the good news”, says Mrs Linu Albert, a parishioner of the church. Thus erecting the Vazhapindi was another example of showing and proclaiming Catholic faith to the other.