Tirunelveli
Feb 14

Missions in Tirunelveli

By Kevin Roland | General

Tirunelveli, just like the rest of India, is a very religious district. It is mainly dominated by Hinduism. Many magnificent temples and shrines have been raised in honour and worship of the Hindu gods. In the district are other religions like Islam and Christianity. Despite the different religious sects, the land enjoys true religious harmony and peace.

The district has one of the nicest churches, “St. Mary’s Church”, which attracts a lot of tourists due to its architecturally unique design and coastal siting. How did Christianity reach the South Indian district? How long has it been around? Does the religion have a history? According to Dyron B. Daughrity, for at least 150 years, the district has been the centre for Christian missionary work in South India. The exact time Christianity cropped up there cannot be clarified, but the churches believe it started in the 1st century with Apostle Thomas. Many Indians attest to this and there are relics and monuments proving it.

Among the missionaries who visited the district, Catholic missionaries who were mostly Franciscans were the first. This was in the early to middle 16th century. They worked among the Paravas of the Western Coast of Tamil Nadu baptising many of them. The leader of this group was Father Michael Vaz. According to Jayakumar, in 1542, another Catholic missionary, Xavier, arrived in India and converted about 15000 to 20000 people of the oppressed class (mainly Mukkuvas) within 10 years. He left the district after this and others continued.

St. Mary’s Church in TirunelveliThe Protestants, who had their own issues to deal with at the time, were only able to enter the land in the 18th century. The Early Protestants to enter the land were 2 German Lutherans sent from Denmark. The two Lutherans learnt the Tamil language and translated the Scriptures (1714-1715) as well as many other texts. They set up printing presses and collected many manuscripts resting in Halle today. The growing group came under many leaders. Among them was Benjamin Schultze, during whose time the first Indian minister was ordained in December 1733. The British Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) took responsibility for Schultze’s welfare. He was one of the most successful missionaries to the district. At the time, there was a loose affiliation between SPCK and the Danish missionaries. The Christian missionaries came along with them a wave of development. They established schools, seminaries, hospitals etc.

After Schultze came Phillip Fabricius, an excellent Tamil scholar who completed the translation of the New Testament in 1750 and revised it many times until it was printed in 1766 by a donated British press. He produced hymns and other texts as well.

Frederick Swhartz, who is considered to be the greatest Christian Evangelist in India in the 18th century, came into the scene and converted many Hindus with his multilingual abilities and lifestyle. It was in his time that a large sect of the South Indian community welcomed Christianity. In his time, the Clorinda Church that stands to this day was built and consecrated.

With the entire Tirunelveli under British colony in 1801, the door was opened for other missionaries to also come in. In the 1840s, the Nadars openly accepted Christianity, being convinced it provided the opportunity for social improvement. The Christian movement grew year after year and churches were established in various places.

Oscars
Jan 23

The Oscars (1929-2015)

By Kevin Roland | General

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and SciencesThe Academy Awards (Oscars) was introduced in May 16, 1929 to award winners of the 5 branches of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The branches include actors, directors, producers, writers and technicians. The American Awards which is performed annually honours cinematic accomplishments in the movie industry. It presents winners with a specially designed iconic statuette/trophy nicknamed “Oscar” in 1939. How the name, “Oscar”, came about is uncertain, but it was designed by MGM’s famous art director Cedric Gibbons. The Oscar was originally made of bronze and plated with gold. When World War II struck and materials were scarce painted plaster was used. Today, it is made from britannium and plated with gold.

The Oscar is not to be sold for profit. An agreement that can only allow winners or their heirs to offer it back to the academy for a dollar binds it. The ceremony has changed over time. When it started, winners were announced 3 months before the ceremony. Later, the list of recipients were given to newspapers for publication on the night of the ceremony at 11 pm. This was working out fine until the Los Angeles Times in 1940 published the list earlier than agreed. Hence the organisers resorted to sealing the list in an envelope until the time for publication.

The Awards’ first television broadcast was in 1953. It is now broadcasted live in over 200 countries. It is the oldest of all entertainment award ceremonies. It is also the most prestigious cinema award ceremony worldwide. The 87th award ceremony was performed on the 22nd of February this year (2015). The awards for each year are held for movies released the preceding year.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritus, Birdman The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance2014 saw some of the most beautiful and thrilling movies including; Gone Girl, The Imitation Game, Birdman and many others. The movie that won the Best Picture for last year was Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman/The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”. The movie also won the awards for Best Cinematography and Original Screenplay Writing. Alejandro won the award for Best Director for the movie.

The Best Actor for the year went to Eddie Redmayne for his role in the movie, “The Theory of Everything”. The Best Actress went to Julianne Moore for her role in the movie, “Still Alice”. Actor and Actress in Supporting Roles went to J. K. Simmons for the movie, “Whiplash” and Patricia Arquette for the movie, “Boyhood”. “Whiplash” also won the awards for the Best Film Editing and Sound Mixing. The Best Animated Feature Film went to the movie, “Big Hero 6”, starring Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli. The movie, “Grand Budapest Hotel” won the awards for the Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Original Music Score and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. “CitizenFour”, won the Best Documentary Feature. The Best Documentary Short Subject went to “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”.

The award for Foreign Language Film went to the movie “Ida”. In the Music Category, the Best Original Song went to “Glory” from SELMA with the music and lyrics by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn. The Best Animated Short Film was “Feast”. The Best Short Film with Live Action was “The Phone Call”. “American Sniper” won the movie for the Best Sound Editing. The Best Visual Effects was given to the movie “Interstellar”. The Best Adapted Screenplay Writing was given to the movie “The Imitation Game”.

The total number of awards given out since the inception of the Oscar is 2,947.