Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My First Holy Communion

I received my First Holy Communion at the age of eight. My grandparents and tradition decreed that eight was the appropriate age.As is the tradition the ceremony was held at my Moms place in Kerala. A cousin brother Tommy also received his First Holy Communion with me. We both would go for the Catechism classes at the Church where I was baptized. The place where I come from in Kerala is a completely Catholic area. The entire community therefore knew about our First Holy Communion. Whether we were playing outside or generally running around the fields people passing by would stop to ask us if we had by learnt the prayers. Then came the twist in the tale. People would go and tell Tommy that I had learnt all the prayers and vice versa. Both of us would then all worked up at the competition and anxiously study our prayers and Catechism. We both passed our test with flying colors largely due to the rivalry created by the folks in the village :)

Then came the day of Confession. All my cousin brothers and sisters helped me compile a list of sins, because at age eight I did not even know what sin was. I had a pitiful and handful number of sins to my credit and all of them were committed against my second brother like pulling his hair, writing in his class notebook and letting out air from his bicycle. However with a lot of help from everybody around I had a decent list of sins to my credit to Confess. The Confession went off well watched by anxious parents, Uncles and Aunts. My Uncles teased me when it was over saying that it was the longest confession in the history of the Church!!!

Next day, which was a Sunday, the Church was booked for the First Holy Communion. It was a special Mass. The church was packed with relatives from both sides, that is Tommy’s and mine. An aunt in the US had sent a lovely lace frock for my First Holy Communion complete with lace gloves and veil. Tommy’s Uncle from Dubai had sent him a Double breasted White Suit!!!! The result was very uncomfortable. In the Kerala heat, lacy dresses and double-breasted suits are a disaster. I was very uncomfortable with the paraphernalia that I was wearing and I can only imagine the acute discomfort of Tommy in the suit. I don’t remember much of the ceremony because the lace kept itching and the glove made my hands sweat.

Somehow the ceremony got over and after the mandatory photographs with all and sundry the entire entourage moved to my Moms Tharavadu for the feasting. It is a tradition in my part of Kerala (more of a chauvinism) that at least four kinds of meats should be served at an important occasion like this. So there was Beef, Chicken, Duck, Fish and Mutton. My Dad must have been collecting booze from the day I was born, for it was flowing like water and even the priest got drunk! As soon as I reached home, my Mom’s sister got me out of the lace costume much to my relief and made me wear normal clothes. It was like a burden lifted off my shoulders literally because the dress was heavy. After that it was fun playing with my cousins and generally being the center of attraction. Today Tommy flies for an US airline as a Pilot and whenever we meet or email we still talk about the rivalry that was created between us all those years ago.

I don’t know why the people are in such a tearing hurry to make their kids go through First Holy Communion at such a young age. Recently I was helping my cousin sisters's daughter prepare for her First Holy Communion ( as I am her Godmother) and I went through the whole routine again, this time understanding it better. I know for a fact that my little niece doesn’t even know what’s happening like me all those years ago.

All in all it was a nice experience and I got some 20,000 Rosaries and Bibles as presents :))

15 comments:

Alexis Leon said...

I received my First Holy Communion when I was in my 4th standard. It was an experience very similar to yours. We also had to go for the go for the Catechism classes for about 20 days. We were taught by the nuns from the convent near the church. Since there were almost 50 of us, all us were made to wear a uniform—white shorts/skirts and shirts. So we didn’t have to wear any fancy outfits.

The fun happened during the confession day. The confession proceedings were being presided over by over by our vicar—an old but a very tall, fat and fit priest with a very short temper. One of my friends, decided that the sins that we were being asked to tell (like have lied, have spoken during the mass, have disobeyed parents and teachers, etc.) were not strong enough for the first confession. So he added one more item to the list—from the Ten Commandments—have committed adultery.

We finished our confessions and were saying the prayers while we heard a shout and saw our vicar jumping out of the confession cubicle and chasing my friend around the church yelling at him. You could imagine the rest…

silverine said...

@Alexis: ROFL =))

quills said...

Oh this brings back so many good memories. Including the itchy lace..which was not so funny then. :))I remember my first Confession which was also at the tender age of 8. Me and my friends were swapping lists trying to come up with the best sounding ones but still not bad enough to be kept out of heaven and the black books of the Sister. The Catechism sister had warned us of the fate that awaited naughty girls and boys. :)) KPBMF or whatever the right acronym is, I guess the trend is the same in any Christian family you visit in Kerala. And ofcourse the best part was the presents. But the downside was being hauled up by everyone visiting the house to recite all prayers they thought was necessary to be a true Catholic. :)

@alexis: that is so funny. :))

silverine said...

@Alexis: That was sooo funny LOL I can imagine the scene.
Actually the school where I studied prepares us for Holy Communion during Catechism classes. It is a lot of fun as we have to come to church on Sundays for lessons and the girls enjoy playing after that. The girls also get to wear regulation uniform of white skirts and tops.I missed all that since I had to go to Kerala for my communion.

@Quills: I would love to read about your experience. Guess the lace got to you too lol Nothing like FHC in Kerala though. All my poeple are there and since it was summer vacation, a lot of relatives in Bangalore were also in Kerala. So it made sense to have it done in Kerala. Some of the things I remember is feeling that I will go to hell because of my sins. I think that is rather unfair to an eight year old :))

Mind Curry said...

so since then we began to understand sins better..lol.

alexis, thats really funny man! its all about growing older younger.

Jagan said...

u confessed ur sins when u r 8 year olds ..u r definitely beating many of my records ...

y dont u put the communion snaps ..i think it will b cute ..

injinuity said...

I think I would fall into the category of those who had vert late communions... I was schooled in Bahrain and we can have a communion only by the Bishop, so by the time the bishop was free and could come to Bahrain for the same.. I had aleady turned 16 by them.

silverine said...

@mindcurry: *sigh* and since then we began understanding sins better. Wish I was not told about it in the first place :))
@Jagan: Of course I had some sins to my credit by age 8!! Communion snaps?hmmm mebe :)
@Jinu: You were lucky,it is def better to get it done a lil late.

Matter of Choice said...

"It is a tradition in my part of Kerala (more of a chauvinism) that at least four kinds of meats should be served at an important occasion like this. So there was Beef, Chicken, Duck, Fish and Mutton."

ahem...some math teacher must be turning in his/her grave :)...or are u like the people in Konkan coast who consider fish as a sea-vegetable!!!

a good read...we jacobites never had any communion but my close friend had one and i remember being quite excited about it!

silverine said...

@matterofchoice:Not one but many Math teachers will be spinning in the grave :) In school I remember proposing a ban on Maths. And yes, we also believe that fish is a sea vegetable :)

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

You have the memory of a giant Redwood!

I have the memory of a salamander when its dazed by an electric eel.

Anonymous said...

I didnt make my first holy communion untill i was age 11 due to a number of reasons.I remember that sunday morning was warm and clear.We were all in the required outfits-the boys in their white suits and us girls in our poofy,top of the knees communion dresses with our veils,lace anklets and our white 'mary jane'shoes.Since our dresses were considered extensions of our baptism outfits,us girls had to wear a white,cloth diaper and white rubber pants with an under shirt under our dresses.As the ceremony went on,it got hotter and most of us girls were perspiring as the diaper and rubber pants were holding in our body heat.Plus,the rubber pants were toddler size and fit us snug and were somewhat uncomfortable.thank goodness we had air conditioning in our house so my party was held in doors.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous-I know how you felt! I made my first communion at 14 and we had to wear the poofy communion dress and veil with the lace socks and white shoes and we had to wear rubberpants and an under shirt under our dresses-no diaper,just the rubberpants!My mom got lucky and found a teen size pair and they fit me just a little loose.It was warm that day also and i was sweating also and the rubberpants were getting damp on the inside from my sweat! Finially after my party was over,i took the rubberpants off and i was broken out in a mild rash.

Anonymous said...

I made my First holy communion at age 8 and i remember taking my bath,then comming into my room and sitting down on my bed and laying back and mom pinned a cloth diaper on me then put toddler size rubberpants on over it and then my undershirt and that was my First Holy communion underwear under my dress.

Anonymous said...

I have three cousins,ages 7,10 and 13 who all made their First Holy Communions yesterday,May 21,and all three of them were put into a cloth diaper and rubberpants under their poofy communion dresses.They all wore the cute lace anklets with the white mary jane shoes and their rubberpants fit blousy and crinkled under their dresses.All of the little girls in their class had the cloth diaper and rubberpants also.