The Madbaha is the sanctum sanctorum (holy of the holies) and reminds us of the divine presence of God. Given below is the description of the Madbaha at the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Bangalore.
‘Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself’ (Heb.9:24). Heaven is depicted by blue color in our Madbaha area.
‘God is a consuming fire’ (Heb.12:29). God’s presence is depicted by fire on the read end wall.
Thronos (A Syriac word meaning Throne)
Thronos represents the Last Supper (sacramental term-Holy Qurbana), atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus the Christ, his death and burial. Thronos is made up of wood. The Thronos is the symbol of the throne of God in heaven. ‘The Lord in on his heavenly throne’ (Ps.11:4). Thronos is the throne of Grace and Mercy hence it is the sacred place for intimate prayer and worship and thereby experiencing the power of the Spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.
At the front of the Thronos is the Chittola (A Syriac word meaning richly colored cloth). It usually has three divisions signifying the Trinity. A cross in the center representing the Lord Jesus Christ and doves represent the Holy Spirit. The embroidery work signifies vine and wheat which gives life, being the blood and body of Jesus gives us eternal life.
The altar has three stain glass panels.
The left panel shows an open bible and a burning lamp. ‘Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path’ (Ps.119:105). The emblem of the Mar Thoma Church emphasizes the lamp which signifies our motto ‘lighted to lighten’.
The center panel depicts the burning bush. ‘Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up’ (Ex.3:2). The burning bush symbolizes the immense holy presence of God.
The panel on the right shows picture of fire, globe and trumpets. ‘For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first’ (1Thes.4:16). ‘Those who have done what is good will rise to live, those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned’ (Jn.5:29).
We are called to lead a life in accordance with the Word which makes us worthy enough to receive the righteousness of Christ, will enter into the glory of God with Christ forever.
Thabaleetha (A Syriac word meaning table)
Thabaleetha is a wooden plank consecrated by a bishop. It signifies the wooden cross on which Christ was crucified. The Thabaleetha is housed in a richly embroider cloth called ‘Viri-kootu’ and hence is not visible. The Viri-kootu is spread on the Thronos only at the time of the Holy Qurbana service by the celebrant.
The cross symbolizes the salvation in Christ. The cross has no crucifix signifying that Christ is risen.
‘When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn.8:12). The lighted candles signify the presence of God. 12 candles represent 12 apostles.
Our church is apostolic in origin. The pillars depict the apostles’ shoulder which upholds the church
Censer (known as Doopakutti in Malayalam)
‘Christ loved us as gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’ (Eph.5:2). ‘The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God’ (Rev.8:4). The incense/prayer cleanses us and makes us worthy to be acceptable to the Lord.