Church in Kerala rejects burial request for Priyanka’s grandmother

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Priyanka and her family at the funeral of her grandmother in Ponkunnam, Kerala.

Grandmother’s last wish unfulfilled – she was then buried in another church cemetery

A Jacobite Christian parish in Kerala on Sunday (June 05)  refused to allow the burial of Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra’s grandmother in the church cemetery.  (The Jacobite Syrian Christian Church  is an autonomous Oriental Orthodox Christian church. It is  known as the Malankara Syrian Church and is a part of the Syriac Orthodox Church  centered in Kerala.)

Priyanka’s grandmother, Madhu Jyotsana Akhauri, was a Malayali woman who was in her heydays known as a freedom fighter, social activist and a former legislator. She died in Mumbai on June 3, aged 94. Besides Priyanka’s mother Madhu Chopra, she is survived by two other daughters and a son.

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A statement issued on behalf of Priyanka said:”We announce the passing of Madhu Jyotsna Akhouri, our beloved mother and grandmother. Freedom fighter, social activist, MLA, amongst other things. She left us in her sleep, surrounded by her family and loved ones.”

Madhu was born as Mary John in the beautiful village of Kumarakom, near Kottayam, and was member of the St John’s Attamangalam parish. She went to Bihar as a practicing nurse and later married Dr. Manohar Kishan Akhouri.  Dr. Akhouri died of brain haemorrhage in January 2010 in Jamshedpur, aged 84. He was a veteran Congress worker.

When she grew old, Madhu had apparently  expressed a desire to be buried at the same church where she was baptized.  The actress, along with her mother, Madhu Ashok Chopra, brother Sidharth, and other members of the family had come to Kottayam to attend her funeral.

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The priests at the Kumarakom parish, however, refused to allow the burial on church grounds, saying she had been excommunicated after she married a Hindu and broke ties with the church.

A church spokesperson told media  that Madhu had lived as a Hindu after her marriage. “One is automatically disowned by the church under such circumstances. She could have re-joined the church while alive. But once a person is dead, we cannot accept the body for burial,” he added.

The funeral was finally conducted at St Thomas Jacobite Church at Ponkunnam, some 50 km east of Kumarakom, in  the same Kottayam district. That church allowed the funeral and associated rituals to go ahead, without any explanation given.

Priyanka wrote on Twitter, “Rest in peace Nani. #Kerala #FinallyBackHome”

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The 33-year-old  tar said her grandmother will always be in her heart. “Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us everyday,” she added.  – CINEWS

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