Indian temple tragedy prompts rethink on fireworks

After a pyrotechnic explosion killed over 100 people at a Hindu temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala April 10, Catholic parishes in the region are considering banning fireworks during their festivals.

Apr 22, 2016

KOCHI, INDIA: After a pyrotechnic explosion killed over 100 people at a Hindu temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala April 10, Catholic parishes in the region are considering banning fireworks during their festivals.

Father George Rebeiro, spokesman for the Quilon Diocese which covers the disaster area, said the tragedy has prompted a discussion on the merits of having fireworks during celebrations.

The priest said the state has rules about firework storage, transportation and use but unfortunately implementation is poor.

"Catholics in general are discussing to instead use the money spent on fireworks to do something useful for the people, especially the poor," Father Rebeiro said while acknowledging that several parishes traditionally hold fireworks as part of their feasts.

"This could surely be a discussion point in the next meeting of the priest as of the diocese has not issued any formal ban on fireworks," Father Rebeiro said.

Christians and Hindus, who together make up 75 percent of the 34 million people in the state, regularly have fireworks as part of festivities in their temples and parishes, often without adequate safety measures.

Bishop Joseph Kariyil of Kochi, the commercial capital of the state, told media April 12 that in the wake of the temple tragedy parishes should not be having fireworks.

"Firework displays are a momentary thrill and they can kill people. We should avoid it," said Bishop Kariyil.

The bishop appealed to wealthy Catholics in the dioceses who want to use fireworks as part of a marriage ceremony to instead use the money to help the needy.

Two days after the explosions, the Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala announced a ban on firework displays as part of any Orthodox Church festivity. -- ucanews.com

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