On Good Friday, its 'kanji' for Christians in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram:The one thing all Christians in Kerala eagerly wait for on Good Friday is 'kanji' -- the steaming hot gruel made of rice and served immediately after the end of mass. The length of the Good Friday service varies. While most of the denominations begin around the same time in the morning -- after 7 a.m. -- and end around 1 p.m., the Orthodox and Jacobite churches' services end after 2.30 p.m., after which people patiently line up for the kanji. "We have been following this practice ever since our church was set up in the early seventies and every Good Friday, the kanji is prepared by a group of parish members who collect the rice, pulses and mango used for making pickle. The highlight is that the kanji is served in earthen pots and everyone makes sure they have it," said Punnen John, a parishioner from the Orthodox church in Kottayam district. People also have it for dinner. Good Friday is observed as a day of prayers, penance and fasting to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Calvary Hills. Among the key religious ceremonies listed for the day, people mainly observe the "Way of the Cross" - the 14 stations on Christ's Journey to Mount Calvary from Pilate's palace . In the capital city, the Way of the Cross was observed as a joint ritual of various denominations, led by their bishops along with worshippers singing hymns as the story of the betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion of Christ is narrated by the priest. Another ceremony that takes place in all churches is the customary ritual of drinking "choruka" -- a decoction made of bitter gourd juice and vinegar. When the Good Friday mass reaches its last lap, the priest serves a spoon of choruka to every person who attended the mass. This symbolises the cry by a crucified Jesus just before he died, and how some of those watching took a piece of cloth, dipped it in cheap wine, put it on a stick, lifted it to his mouth and tried to make him drink. With the Good Friday service getting over, Saturday is a day when there are no major rituals or events, which allows churches and households to get ready to welcome Easter Sunday. According to the latest revised Census report, Christians number 61.41 lakh out of a total population of 33.4 million.