Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Feast of Denha

Denha is the second great Feast after Easter that was being celebrated from early centuries in the Universal Church. Denha which means Sunrise or Dawn is celebrated to commemorate the Baptism of Our Lord and through that His public manifestation to the world by God the Father as His Beloved Son (Mt.3:17: Mk. 1:11; Lk. 3:22). The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove (Mt.3:16: Mk.1:10: Lk.3:22; Jn. 1:32). Thus the three Persons of the Holy Trinity also were manifested on that occasion. Therefore in the early Church the Holy Trinity also was commemorated on this day. 

In the Nazrani Church, this feast is celebrated in two distinct forms viz., Rakkuli Perunnal and Pindi Perunnal. To commemorate the Baptism of Our Lord in the River Jordan, the Faithful at Palai and Pulinkunnu used to take a holy dip by night (Rakkuli) in the streams flowing near the churches in these localities after the solemn celebration of Ramsha, the Evening Liturgy. Faithful in and around Thrisur light small oil lamps and pin them around plantain trunks (Pindi) erected in churchyards or in front of the houses and go around them chanting in Syriac El payya. These Syriac words mean God is radiant. The thought underlying the lighting of lamps and the chanting is that God sheds His light over the human race through Mishiha (Lk.1:76-79). We may also allude here to the tradition in the Syriac Church which says that when Jesus was baptized in River Jordan, a great light shone in that River. This also might be linked with the introduction of lamps into this festive ceremony. In recent years this Pindi Perunnal ceremony is celebrated in the southern regions also.