Tradition to bring Holy Thursday to the family table

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Home > Media > News > Tradition to bring Holy Thursday to the family table
Tradition to bring Holy Thursday to the family table
Tasmanian Syro-Malabar Catholic family the Roys intend to celebrate Pesaha this Easter: L-R – Rani Roy, Mathew Roy, Roy Mathew,

Over the Easter period, families within Tasmania’s Syro-Malabar Catholic community will celebrate in their homes a special tradition which originates from southern India. 

Syro-Malabar Catholics, who trace the origins of their rite to St Thomas the Apostle, have a number of traditional ways to mark Holy Week. 

“Marking Easter traditions are part and parcel of family life for Syro-Malabar Christians,” the chaplain to the Tasmanian Syro-Malabar community, Fr Jason Kuzhiyil, said. 

On Holy Thursday night, the Last Supper is observed by Syro-Malabar Catholic families by commemorating a custom known as Pesaha – a Christian version of the Jewish Passover.

A specialised meal featuring neatly baked round unleavened bread known as Pesaha Appam, which recalls the sacramental body of Jesus, is shared amongst the family members as they gather around the kitchen table and read from the Biblical book of Exodus. 

A small cross made from coconut leaves which – in ordinary circumstances – are blessed by a priest on Palm Sunday is placed on top of the bread, which in some families is made into a small rice cake. 

The meal is complemented by a sweet sugary drink made from coconut milk known as Pesaha Pal, which recalls the sacramental blood of Christ.

Fr Kuzhiyil said this Easter tradition is very touching and helps bond families as they come together to pray.
Families from the Syro-Malabar community in Tasmania will be able to celebrate their family traditions this Easter despite current restrictions on social gatherings. 

For Beena Roy, of West Moonah, celebrating Easter traditions with her husband and three of her four children currently living in Hobart, is important because Easter is always a “big time of the year” in her culture.

“In Syro-Malabar communities, Easter is as big a festival to celebrate as Christmas here in Australia,” she said.

Mrs Roy said her family is planning to commemorate Holy Thursday at home this year, followed by a large breakfast on Easter Sunday morning incorporating “heaps of Indian food and some Easter eggs included as well”.

Mrs Roy said commemorating family Easter traditions was a chance for her family to come together to pray.

“Faith is a strong part of us – coming together to commemorate Christ’s resurrection gives hope.”