Where do women stand?

Question:

Respected Thirumeni,
Once again let me come to Your Grace with a silly looking doubt, but something that is bothering me. In our church, during Holy Qurbana and even for other sacramental services as also for even a meeting, it is a rule that women are on the right half or southern half and  men on the left side or northern half. Even Marthomites and CSI follow the same rule, though may not be as hard and fast as we are. Is there any sound reason for this or is it just a practice cum tradition? I heard one of our priests once explaining this as our system of giving importance to women. I am not getting convinced at this. But in Catholic Churches, it is just the opposite. The other day, I attended a marriage in a Catholic church and their Vicar was very strict to see that all women occupied the left half of the church. Here I also understand that there are Catholic churches with their alter facing west. They also have a dispute on this called Caldaya thinking and non Caldaya thinking with the priest facing the people throughout or the other way as we do. The above marriage was at their St Dominic Cathedral at Kanjirappaly and this Diocese is supporting Caldaya thinking.Here, the celebrant was mostly facing the alter as our priests do.
Please help me understand this.
Your spiritual son (?)
Answer:
Dear (?)
Thank you for the mail and the query. Once again we are confronted with a cultural element influencing our religious life. I still remember, in our village Church women used to stand during Holy Qurbana at the back side of the Church behind men. This was the practice all over our Church before the western Church introduced side by side practice. This influenced our Churches in the southern part of the state first and then those in the northern part. When a nearby Church in my village introduced side by side position, we hesitantly followed suit. There were some elderly people who were not so happy about this change. In the Syrian tradition in olden times (as I have seen in many Churches in Turkey), women stand behind a curtain in the Church at the west end. But now even in Churches in Syria women and men stand together (mixed) without any segregation. Our practice has nothing to do with we deliberately honouring women!


Yes in all Catholic Churches in Kerala, following the Latin way, priests used to face the congregation during service (in Latin rite in Kerala they still do). But the Syrian Catholics led by Changanassery Archdiocese, a new initiative was taken up to go back to Syrian way a couple of decades back in many of its practices. Priest facing east is one among them. But several dioceses even in East Syriac rite, including Thrissur and Iringalakuda dioceses, did not accept this suggestion whole heartedly. The Malankara rite follows west Syriac practice of facing east.
Hope you are doing fine.
With regards and prayers
Thirumeni