Dubai, Dec. 27, 2018: A church in Dubai has cut down on its golden jubilee celebrations and donated 10 million rupees (Dh542,643) to the flood-ravaged south Indian state of Kerala, church officials said.
Announcing the details of the valedictory function of the 50th anniversary celebrations of St Thomas Orthodox Cathedral scheduled on Dec. 28, church officials said many programs in the year-long celebrations were called off to divert the money for flood relief.
Worshipers, majority of who hail from Kerala, also generously contributed to the church’s management which donated 200,000 rupees to the state Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund and directly helped 130 families affected by the deluge in August.
“In total, we have spent Rs 10 million for Kerala flood relief,” said vicar Fr Ninan Philip Panackamattom.
Most of the beneficiaries had suffered massive destruction to their houses, he said.
This was one of the various charitable activities that the church has done in line with the ethos of tolerance and generosity held high by Dubai government, the vicar said.
“We had also organised a mass blood donation camp to mark the Year of Zayed.”
On January 4, the church will organize another event to donate hair for cancer patients.
The main highlight of Friday’s day-long official event will be the presence of Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, the Supreme Head of the Indian Orthodox Church, who celebrated Christmas with workers at a labour accommodation in Dubai on Tuesday.
Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, will be the chief guest at the public meeting in the evening.
Apart from heads of some congregations from India, Malayalam film actors and Indian parliamentarians Innocent and Suresh Gopi will also be present.
A devotional concert by singer Kester and cultural programmes including traditional Malayali Christian dance form of Margam Kali by 50 women and girls will also be held.
The cathedral in Dubai’s Oud Mehta area is the Mother Parish of all the Orthodox churches across six emirates.
The congregation in Dubai, which began with four families in 1958 and grew to 35 families when it officially became the congregation of Orthodox faithful in 1968, now has more than 3,000 families.