news Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 05:30
File picture of Members of Syro Malabar Church seeking prohibiton. If you thought that the Kerala Syro Malabar Church, the force behind state government’s campaign to bring in prohibition, really intended to reduce alcohol consumption in the state, then here is the bummer. The Church has just sought permission from State Excise department for increasing its production of sacramental wine. And it’s a steep climb. From the present production of 1,250 litres of wine, the church wants to produce 5,000 litres per year now. What is adding fuel to the controversy around the request, quite obviously, is that the Church had strongly lobbied for closure of bars in the state. Following the controversy, the Church has expectedly taken refuge in religious talk.  The Church has declared that Christians in Kerala would not be able to think of the Holy Mass without bread and wine, which symbolise the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, the Ezhava religious group, will have none of it, and is alleging misuse of the license. Vellappally Nateshan, General Secretary of the SNDP alleges that Church has secret wine distilleries where mass production happens. “I am sure that Church used to sell wine outside, they have secret distilleries, where huge amount of wine is being produced,” says Nateshan. “Offering wine in churches should be banned. This new request of the church to increase the production should also be not granted,” he adds. The Kerala BJP has also expressed their disagreement with the Church. “This is contrasting. Church was one of the strongest supporters to close the liquor bars in the state. Now they need facility to produce and consume wine. How can we allow this? Others are not allowed to take alcohol and you can do whatever in the name of religion and beliefs?” asks BJP leader TG Mohandas in an interview with Mathrubhumi News. The Church has responded to the allegations by claiming that the wine used in Church for holy purpose does not come under the category of alcohol or "abkari". “During the time of holy mass the priest dips the communion in the wine, which we consider as Jesus Christ’s blood, and give it to believers. Maximum two drops of wine will enter in to his body. We are not making any one drunk in the church,” Syro Malabar Church spokesperson Paul Thalekkat told The News Minute. “It was 25 years ago the Church got the permission to produce 1250 liters of wine. Now the number of believers and churches has considerably increased and how can we manage with this low quantity,” he asks, adding that that the church was against the alcohol consumption which leads to severe heath issues and family problems. “There are no after effects by consuming one or two drop of wine in the church. We are against the evil of alcohol,” says Thalekkat. Further, IANS reports that the wine given at the Church might not be always alcoholic. An official of the Mar Thoma church who did not wish to be identified told IANS that they use dry raisins and pour a little water and keep it overnight.    "The next morning just before the service, it is mashed and the liquid is used as wine and is given to our laity. The rest is equally shared by the priest and his assistants. Now-a-days in many of our churches, to make things easy, we use grape squash," the church official told IANS.

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.