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INDIAN NEWS
Catholics don saffron for Marian feast
Published Date: September 8, 2010

Some Catholics preparing for the feast of the Blessed Mother’s birth in Calcutta archdiocese are donning saffron clothing, following an age-old Indian tradition.

This practice originated from Catholics who migrated from Tamil Nadu state in southern India but now local people are also following it, Church people say.

Alexander Anthony said he has been wearing saffron clothing on the nine days preceding the Sept. 8 feast ever since childhood.

The saffron color “is not particular to any religion but part of the Indian culture, signifying solemnity and renunciation,” said the general secretary of the Catholic Association of Bengal, who is in his early 40s.

His mother, Vailankanni, said she picked up the practice from her family who lived in Tamil Nadu’s Vailankanni area, where the popular Basilica of Our Lady of Vailankanni is located.

The practice is a form of prayer “to Our Lady for healing of sickness or brokenness,” said Father Francis Alphonse, parish priest of St. Ignatius Church in Kidderpore.

“This is part of inculturation,” he said.

His parish is the second largest in the archdiocese with 9,000 people, more than 80 percent of whom are migrants from Tamil Nadu.

A Calcutta archdiocesan priest, who requested anonymity, said only “a minority group” wears saffron clothes for the Marian feast.

He said he wants the practice stopped as the color is associated with Hinduism. Catholics should not using Hindu traditions and symbols in their spiritual practices, he added.

Source: ucanews.com

 
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