Kerala church says no to Chinese coffins

Thiruvananthapuram, May 20 (IANS) A Kerala church has asked its followers not to use Chinese made coffins, saying they are not environment friendly.

“Swarga Petti” (heavenly box) has been found to be an unfriendly product by the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar due to delay in decaying in the soil.

Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the supreme head of the church, in an article in the latest issue of Sabha Tharaka, its official mouthpiece, has asked people to use environment friendly products. The Tiruvalla-based church asked them to tap solar energy and also not use the Chinese coffin.

“This particular coffin does not suit our environment and it pollutes the environment and hence it should not be used,” said the metropolitan.

The church’s call comes amid Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visiting India.

The Mar Thoma Church has followers close to a million, mostly concentrated in central Kerala districts. The people who adhere to the church are considered wealthy in comparison to other Christians.

Even their funeral processions are taken out with pomp and show with expensive and decorative coffins, hiring of choirs to sing the devotional songs and distribution of ‘heavy’ food packets after the coffin ritual.

Speaking to IANS Kurian Jacob who hails from Kottayam and belonging to the Syrian Orthodox church said over the years the generally accepted norm was to buy a coffin which is made of rubber wood and decently decorated and the price starts from Rs.2,500 upwards. “The prices of Chinese coffin starts from Rs.10,000,” he said.

The church has also asked its followers to see that the sacred cloth (Sossapa, that spots a cross) which is put on the body should be made of cotton and not silk, as the latter does not disintegrate.

It now remains to be seen if other churches in the state would follow the Mar Thoma church on the issue. Christians in Kerala comprises 23 per cent of the state’s 3.30 crore population.

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