With reportedly 20 lakh migrant labourers in the Ernakulam district of Kerala alone, Kochi city attracts migrant labourers from several states across the country mainly West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.
Language was a main barrier faced by migrant labourers and tourists coming to the state. Complaints of difficulty in using public transport as buses had destination-plaques only in Malayalam were common.
The situation now slowly seems to be changing. Not only do more buses in the district exhibit their destination-boards in Hindi, shops and restaurants too have included Hindi in their name boards.
And now probably for the first time in the state, a church in the city has decided to celebrate mass in Hindi.
The last synod of the Verapoly archdiocese has started Hindi mass in St Antony’s Shrine in Kaloor. The diocese informed that all other church services required by the labourers will also be provided by the church.
"We conducted the first mass in Hindi on November 29 and will continue to do so every Sunday from now on. We have also made arrangements for confessions and blessings to be carried out in Hindi," Fr Antony Vibin Xavier, spokesperson for the Verapoly archdiocese told The News Minute.
He has also said that churches under the diocese will work towards uniting migrant believers and form special prayer groups as per their convenience.
The Latin Church in Kerala has planned to extend these services to other parts of the state as well.
"We will spread these facilities to many other churches in the district and the state. Services will soon begin in Aluva and Perumbavoor," Fr Antony said.
Priests who have worked in North India and can communicate in Hindi will be assigned to the churches to take care of the Hindi speaking community.
The church in Kaloor has already set up Hindi choir teams and prayer groups. There are also groups of nuns and priests who work for the uplift of migrant labourers in the state.
“Every week we visit the migrant labour settlements in the outskirts of the city. Many of them are addicted to drugs, alcohol and other crimes. Since there are communal issues related to conversions, we visit them in secret and work among them. We don’t go there for conversion but for social work,” says a senior nun from a convent in Aluva.