UAE/Abu Dhbai: Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, felicitated Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan, on the occasion of the 1960th anniversary of the establishment of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church and the centenary celebrations of the establishment of the Catholicate of the East in India.
Shaikh Nahyan highlighted the significance of hospitality and religious tolerance in the Islamic tradition and Arab culture in his address to the gathering at National Theatre Auditorium on Friday. He also stressed the importance of coexistence of different religions in the region.
Apostle St Thomas founded Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, which is also known as the Indian Orthodox Church, in AD 52.
It was the first visit of Paulose II to Abu Dhabi after assuming the position of the supreme spiritual head of the Indian Orthodox community.
Dignitaries who felicitated the metropolitan include M. K. Lokesh, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, and Yusuff Ali M.A, Board member of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Deacon Ashaia Haroun of the St Antony’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, requested Paulose II to remember the Copts in his prayers as they are in the process of choosing a successor to the departed Pope Shenouda. Representatives from other sister churches and various socio-cultural organisations were also present on the occasion.
Indian Orthodox Church bishops Thomas Mar Athanasius and Abraham Mar Seraphim felicitated Paulose II, while Brahmavar Diocesan Metropolitan Yakob Mar Elias presided the function. Geevarghese Mar Ivanios was also present amongst the dignitaries.
In his reply, the Orthodox pontiff paid rich tributes to the Father of the Nation and the first President of the UAE, late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who had laid the foundation stone of St George Orthodox Cathedral at Khalidia in 1971. He also expressed the gratitude of the church to the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Their Highnesses the Rulers of the Emirates and members of the ruling families for their benevolence and continuous support to the Indian Orthodox community in the UAE.
The catholicos also lauded the charity works undertaken by the Orthodox followers in connection with the centenary celebrations of the establishment of the Catholicate of the East in India.
A large number of people attended the function with the National Theatre auditorium remaining full, according to K. K. Stephen, trustee of the cathedral.
Fr V. C. Jose, Vicar of St George Orthodox Cathedral, welcomed the guests and Secretary K. E. Thomas proposed the vote of thanks. margamkali (Kerala Christian folk dance), Indian classical dance and songs by the church choir added flavour to the function.