The feast of Saint Lazarus was celebrated in Our Lady of Guidance Church, R.A.Puram in a simple and toned down manner due to the pandemic regulations in force. The church was built in the year 1582 and Parish Priest Fr. Y.F.Bosco stated that this is the 440th year of the celebrations.
Usually the feast is celebrated on the last Saturday and Sunday in January but this year, it was just a 2 day affair with the flag hoisting held on the 19th and the feast on the 20th of January due to the ongoing pandemic. Instead of the 10 day celebrations from the hoisting of the flag to the feast day, it was shortened to 2 days. Only 4 statues were taken out in a car procession instead of the usual 9 statues. It was a quiet affair with no crackers and no band accompanying the procession. It did quick rounds around the streets surrounding the streets without halting anywhere. There were no stalls permitted and Fr. Bosco said that there was only one stall within the church campus that sold candles to the devotees.
20th January the celebrations began at 5.15 pm. with holy mass celebrated by 6 priests. The main celebrant was Fr. J.Kumar, Director of Pastoral Centre. The Homily was delivered by Fr. Antony Sebastian, Director of JD Academy of Excellence that prepares students for the Civil Services exams. After the mass, 4 statues of St.Michael the Archangel, Saint George popularly called Sandiagappar, Saint Lazar, the patron Saint of the Parish and Our Lady were taken out in procession. After the procession, the flag was lowered and taken out in a small procession within the church campus. The celebrations culminated at 9 p.m with the Eucharistic Adoration.
Tony Louis, who now lives in the US with his family was a parishioner in this parish from 1937 to 1969. He married Jean in 1969 and then shifted to Royapuram. He migrated to the US with his family in 1987. Tony vividly remembers the feast celebrations that used to take place every year. He also recalls that he used to take part in the procession along with his parents, siblings and friend Lionel Xavier who later became a Priest and joined the Salesian Order. He proudly stated that This is the only parish that takes out 9 statues in procession for the feast every year and is deeply saddened to hear that this year only 4 statues were taken out and the feast was only a 2 day affair.
– Juliana Sridhar is an advocate and columnist.