St. Mary’s Cathedral Manarcad – the Global Marian Pilgrim Centre – is the only church in Malankara, where the site of the church was given in a divine revelation. The Holy Shrine- St. Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Cathedral, Manarcad – celebrates the feast of the Nativity of Virgin Mary on September 8. September 1 to 8 is the historic Eight Day Lent at Manarcad for which all roads lead to this holy shrine and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims throng here seeking favors and blessing from the Holy mother.
The Tradition of practicing the Eight-Day Lent is as old as the church itself, it started when such a practice was not existed in any episcopal church. Even in these early days people come from faraway places to take part in this lent. Rev. Joseph Pit, the Anglican Missionary who visited the church in 1836, to his surprise found a very large crowd of pilgrims in the church of Manarcadu and its premises. More than 2000 devotees lived there observing the Eight-Day Lent. The following words of Rev. Pic authenticate this fact:
“I heard that some Christians observed a special lent for a week in the name of St. Marys in Manarcad. They observed it in the church by avoiding certain items of food, taking daily bath and by attempting to make themselves holy….. More than 2000 pilgrims had assembled in the church and its premises. This church with believed to be a holy place”(Ref: Athbhuthasaudham P.22)
Rasa (The Procession)
The historic feast procession of the church “Rassa” takes place on September 6 at 2 p.m. with accompaniments of thousands of colurfull ornamental umbrellas (Muthukudas), hundreds of gold and silver crosess, brass bands and orchestras. Here thousands of devotees imbued with faith process chanting songs of prayer to the holy Virgin. This is considered as a sacred event. Thousands and Thousands of native and foreign faithful assembled here at Manarcad Cathedral to partake in this Rassa, (vital part of eight day lent practice) Which is known as the biggest spiritual celebrative procession in asia
Nadathurakkal (Opening of holy portrait)
The covered portrait of holy mother with child Jesus in her hand kept in the sanctum sanctorum will be open as “darshan” on 7th September every year. Lakhs of people from all over the world come to the church to see this blessed event.
The portrait will be closed on 14th September, every year. Viewing this portrait is considered to be a source of blessing.
On the eight day of the lent, as part of feast celebrations, Pachor will be prepared and given to all devotees. Pachor is sweet made from rice, milk and Jaggery, served in the afternoon of feast day. Pilgrims considered this as holy and taken even to foreign countries. Every year Pachor nercha is prepared with 1101 para (a solid measure of 10 edangazhis, used for measuring grain) rice (8000kg) and proportionate amount of coconut and Jaggery.
Fire Works (Karimarunnu Prayogam)
During the eight- day lent festival, on September , at the eve of the feast, a splendid and massive display of fire works will be held every year. After the fire works, during the early hours of the eight day parish members perform traditional art forms