Thekkiniyath Raphael, a resident of Thrissur district, approached the District Magistrate court in 2013 stating that the high-decibel fireworks being organized as part of the church feast by Ollur St Antony's Forane Church will damage his house. Following this, the apex court allowed the church to use fireworks, as it contended that it was part of a long tradition. However, Raphael approached the court again in October 2014 after his house was damaged by the fireworks, and the case is still pending.
The controversy took a new turn with his son Sanju Raphael speaking out on how the Church was allegedly arm-twisting his family to withdraw the case. Sanju took to Facebook to explain how the church and parishioners were threatening that his wedding slated to happen in January 2016 would not have the blessings of the Church and parish priest.
â€śWhen I talked about religious intolerance, many people asked me "Have you had personal experience?"
My reply to them: Yes. I am feeling it right now.
To all the people who think that intolerance is only for Hindus and Muslims, this may be an eye opener.
Christians are catching up.
The Blue Banner is a perfect example of religious intolerance of Ollur Parish, Thrissur District, Kerala. The picture (below) is a news item in the Times of India on 30th October 2014.
The banner (below) has been kept at many locations by the church and it reads, "We should not allow wedding from Raphealâ€™s family (my marriage) in the church as they filed a case against religious beliefs, against church and against the priest".
Are the priest and his intolerant, antisocial supporters above the law?
Itâ€™s pathetic that the priest and church is making provocative and derogatory remarks about my family and have organized protests to our house frequently. Itâ€™s more pathetic to know that many people are following these religious bigots blindly without checking the facts.
Anyway I feel like a celebrity now. I didnâ€™t know that my marriage would get this much publicity.
I, Sanju Rapheal invite everyone to the auspicious occasion of my marriage on Jan 3rd 2016. Cheers.â€ť
In another FB post on December 15, 2015, Sanju has explained that in 2013, eight families had approached the court seeking the courtâ€™s intervention to ensure that the church followed guidelines while using fireworks.
â€śChurch threatened each of these families by different means and made them inactive. The case is still pending in the court,â€ť Sanju says.
He has also alleged that the assistant Bishop of Thrissur Arch Diocese asked the family to withdraw the case, or face consequences.
According to Sanju, the assistant Bishop told his family, â€śIf you don't withdraw the case, your family will not be able to live peacefully. Once you withdraw the case, people may celebrate and burst firecrackers in front of your house and might throw few crackers inside your compound. You don't need to respond.â€ť
He ends by saying that the Church was threatening to disrupt his marriage, but the preparations were going on as usual.