Christmas special prayers held after 300 years in Nagapattinam’s historic Ziegenbalg house

PTI Nagapattinam (Tamil Nadu) December 25 | Updated on December 25, 2019 Published on December 25, 2019

Ziegenbalg house in Tarangambadi, Nagapattinam. File photo   -  File photo

Ziegenbalg was a German-born Danish Missionary

After a gap of 300 years, Christmas special prayers were held at the historic house in Tarangambadi in this district, where Bartholomeus Ziegenbalg lived.

Tarangambadi remained under Danish rule between 1620 to 1845.

Who is Bartholomeus Ziegenbalg?

Ziegenbalg was a German-born Danish Missionary. He also set up the first-ever Tamil printing press in India at Tarangambadi in 1711. It was in this house that Ziegenbalg published the New Testament in Tamil in 1715.

Ever since his arrival at Tarangambadi in 1706 as a missionary, Ziegenbalg contributed a great deal for the development of Tamil language and made a profound impact on the lives of the people.

He passed away at Tarangambadi in 1719, at the age of 34 years.

He was the first priest of the New Jerusalem Church, Asia’s first protestant church at Tarangambadi.

“From the palm leaf manuscripts related to the history of Tarangambadi, it was found that Ziegenbalg used to celebrate Christmas at his residence in an elaborate manner inviting the local people. This practice continued till 1718,” said Professor Maria Lazar, an eminent historian.

The celebrations

The Ziegenbalg Spiritual Centre and Ziegenbalg Museum on Intercultural Dialogue, Tarangambadi, decided to revive the Christmas celebrations in Ziegenbalg’s house this year after a gap of 300 years, said Jasmine Eppert, Curator of the Ziegenbalg Museum.

The week-long celebrations commenced on Tuesday.

Musical instruments were brought from Germany to mark the historic occasion.

Dr Edwin Jayakumar, Director of Ziegenbalg Spiritual Centre, presided over the celebrations, in which a large number of people participated.

At Vailankanni, thousands of pilgrims from various parts of the country participated in special prayers in connection with Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, when the clock struck 12 at night, priests of the Church, led by the Rector, came in a procession to announce the birth of Jesus. Little children carried candles and the Holy Bible in procession. After offering prayers in English and Tamil, the Parish Priest showed the idol of an infant Jesus, marking the birth of the Lord.

The church has been decorated with multi-colour papers and illuminated.

The Morning Star Church in the town has also been decorated.

Similarly, hundreds of devotees participated in special prayers at the New Jerusalem Church at Tarangambadi, the oldest Protestant church in Asia.

The church was built by Ziegenbalg in 1718 and is still in use.

Published on December 25, 2019
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