Denha - Manifestation of Trinity

After that Western Churches celebrate the visit of the Magi on January 6th, while Eastern churches continue to celebrate the baptism and the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus.

Denha is a Syriac word which means dawn or sunrise. Latin Church uses the term Epiphany, originating from Greek and means Appearance. Denha refers to the public manifestation of the Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus, where God the Father testified Jesus as the Son of God and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove. (Cf. Mt.3:17: Mk. 1:11; Lk. 3:22).  Thus the Holy Trinity is revealed to the world, so also Jesus as the Incarnate Son of God.

Denha is the feast of the great revelation of Jesus as the light of the world. Jesus is the real Sun that dawned in the world through Incarnation. During the hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth, the public did not recognize Him as the real Sun who illuminates the whole of humanity. He was manifested to the public by God the Father at His Baptism as we have seen above.

Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied right “…when the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death to guide our feet into the way of peace”(Lk.1:76-79). St Ephrem has wrote extensively about the coming of the savior was like a new dawn/sunrise!

Denha is celebrated on January 6 by Syro-Malabariansin two ways - Pindiperunnal ("Plantain trunk feast") and Rakkuliperunal ("feast with a night bath").

In Northern regions of Kerala like Trissur, the feast of Denha is popular as Pindiperunnal. On the previous night of Denha, a decorated plantain trunk is erected in front of houses with many torches attached to it. The family members go around it singing a Syriac hymn "El Paiya", which means "God is light".Special dishes are also prepared during this time. Special prayers conducted in the churches.

In southern areas like Pala, this feast is popular as Rakkuliperunnal – feast with night-bath in river. In imitation of Jesus' Baptism, people used to perform a ritual bath in nearby ponds or rivers singing psalms and other religious hymns on the previous night (ravu) of the feast of Denha.

Similar customs are found in other eastern Churches too. In the Coptic Church Denha was celebrated on the banks of river Nile, in the first millennium. Russian Orthodox Christians too keep similar practices. Priest blesses the water, as symbolic reminder of the purification of all water sources by the baptism of Jesus. At the end of the ceremony, people would jump into the water as a symbolic ritual of purification and a reminder of the baptism of Jesus and their own.

Both types of celebrations refer to the great presence and action of God in Jesus. The Season of Denha –Manifestation – also begins on the Sunday following Denha. And the prayers and readings refer to the public ministry of Jesus.

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