Hindi troupe’s Lenten mission wows Kerala audience
By C.M. Paul
Alapuzha: A Hindi theatre group from Hindu holy city of Varanasi is on a 15-day Lenten mission performing a play on the passion of Christ in 14 churches in Kerala.
The Passion play in Malayalam is performed by Christian, Hindu and Muslim artiste of Varanasi Prerana Kala Manch art forum for inspiration), a unit of Vishwa Jyoti Communications managed by the Indian Missionary Society (IMS). The play entitled “Sneha Bali” (Love Sacrifice) is two hours of light and sound show.
“The acting and setting are highly appreciated by Kerala people,” troupe leader Father Anand Mathew told Matters India. They began the show on March 7.
“The team continues to perform every day in different parts of Kerala until March 22,” the priest added.
The troupe comprises Hindi speaking artistes mostly Hindus, with a sprinkling of Christians and Muslims from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Delhi and Rajasthan who perform in the Malayalam language of Kerala.
The script for the passion narrative is taken from all the four Gospels and merged together, written and directed by Fr. Anand, who is based in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state.
Among the Sneha Bali performers, 12 artistes belong to Prerana Kala Manch.
Mukesh Kumar Jhanjharwala and Vivekanand Brahmachary who play the roles of Jesus and Pontius Pilate respectively are in the field of theater for more than two decades and have also appeared in various Hindi feature films.
The other artistes, four women and three men, coming from Delhi belong to Santvana Community of Lay Disciples and are committed to evangelization of India.
The community was founded by Fr. Dheeraj Sabu, Father Anand’s confrere.
Two other woman artistes are volunteer counselors of the IMS Dhyana Bhavan in Alapuzha, Kerala.
The play starts with Caiphas, Annas and Judas plotting to arrest Jesus. Scenes of Jesus’s arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial at the Sanhedrin, and the scourging made many in the audience shed tears.
“The scenes of the Crucifixion are so moving that some weep loudly,” Father Anand added.
The troupe is staging play in various church premises in Alapuzha, Ernakulam, Kollam, Kottayam and Trichur districts.
At the end of each enactment, Father Prashant, director of Dhyana Bhavan at Punnapra, Apauzha, leads the audience to meditate on the blood of Jesus shed from the cross and to experience healing of body, mind and spirit.
Fr Anand does not hesitate to reveal the secret of the troupe’s success in Kerala saying, “The artistes have fasted, abstained and prayed for months in preparation.”
Fr Anand says, “The audience are stunned at the perfect acting and lip movement of the Hindi speaking actors in tune with the pre-recorded sound track in Malayalam language.”
Celine William, who watched the enactment at St. Xavier’s Church at Chellanam in Alapuzha district, said, “In my 40 years of life it is only when I watched the enactment, I assimilated the meaning and depth of the Way of the Cross, which was a mere ritual so far.”
Like Celine many others also claimed to have experienced abundant grace of God while participating in the enactment and the healing prayer which followed.