Tamil Nadu bishops seek poll date change

Madurai, March 13, 2019: The Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council has sought change in the poll date for the southern Indian state.

The state’s 39 parliamentary and 18 assembly seats will go to poll on April 18, which coincides with Maundy Thursday, an important observance for Christians across denominations.

On March 11, Archbishop Antony Pappusamy of Madurai and president of the council, requested the Election Commission of India (ECI) to change the polling date.

The letter stated that polling date on Maundy Thursday would not be conducive for the Christians as it was in the middle of the Holy Week observance (April 14 to 21).

The archbishop said that Christians working as government schoolteachers and officials engaged in election duty would not be able to attend Mass on Maunday Thursday when Christians observe the commemoration of the final meal – Last Supper – that he had with his disciples a day before his crucifixion and death on the cross.

The council cited another concern that many schools run by dioceses are located inside the campus of churches and many across the state are polling stations.

This will make it inconvenient for people to come to churches and to make arrangements for the religious services (Maundy Thursday and Good Friday). “In most churches, the religious services are conducted in the open area, since many people used to attend the service,” the archbishop said.

The council requested commission chief to consider the Christians sentiments and change the polling date in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Council deputy secretary Father L Sahayaraj said polling stations in schools run by churches will affect Catholic as well as Protestant churches as there will be high security arrangements ahead of the elections.

The impact will be felt more in Kanniyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli which have a high Christian population, he added.

Source: The Times of India

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