Copy of NAT 200313 Bible Record CE008-1584100411870
Manoj Varghese and his family members with the Guinness World Records citation Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai added another record to its name on Friday when Guinness World Records officially recognized the city-based Varghese family for the ‘largest hand-written Bible’ at a ceremony in the Mar Thoma Church.

Manoj Varghese, his wife Susan, and children Karun and Krupa wrote the entire Bible on A1 sized paper in 153 days to enter the record books.

The certificate acknowledging this endeavour was handed over to the family by Shaifali Mishra, official Guinness World Records adjudicator, at the Jebel Ali premises of the church on Friday.

Copy of NAT 200313 Bible Record CE004-1584100409610
The world's largest handwritten Bible Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

The handwritten Bible weighing 151kg, has more than 1,500 pages (roughly 800,000 words) and is being kept in the church. The Bible measures 85.5cm by 60.7cm in length and width. It has a thickness of 46.3cm.

Speaking about their experience, the family said that it was like a pilgrimage to the places in the Bible undertaken from the comfort of their home. “We had a feeling of inner peace that cannot be experienced elsewhere. It brought us together as a family and we found that we could share our concerns with each other. We were greatly blessed during and after those five months.”

At the event, Rev Siju C. Philip, vicar of the Mar Thoma parish, congratulated the family and said the unique task undertaken by them was an inspiration to many who found studying the Bible difficult.

E.P. Johnson, President of the Indian Association, Sharjah, said: “I am happy that the project was divided among the family members, enabling them to come together to achieve their goal.”

The motivation to write the Bible, however, had nothing to do with the record books. “All I wanted to do was leave something beautiful for my children. I wanted them to treasure something personal that I gave them,” said Susan, a nurse, who did much of the writing on the project.

Copy of NAT 200313 Bible Record CE013-1584100414406
The Varghese family: No mean feat Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

“I decided to write the Bible in English on regular sized paper so I could gift it to my children. I felt that not only would my children draw inspiration from the Bible, but they would also remember a mother who gave them a personal gift.”

Susan’s husband, Manoj Varghese, who runs an interior design company, then found that there was a chance of creating a record and set about the task.

Susan said she wanted everyone in the family to contribute and so distributed the task. Their home in Samari Residence was fitted with cameras to document the process for the record book and the furniture was moved around to make space for the 1,500 sheets of A1 sized papers.

The family began the project on May 11, 2019, with Susan doing bulk of the work, writing most of the 66 books in the Bible, spending 12 to 15 hours every day. The remaining books were divided among the others.

“My eyes would twitch and my hands would hurt, but in the process I found the Bible speaking to me, inspiring and guiding me,” Susan said.

The children, Karun and Krupa, spent the bulk of their summer holidays glued to their chairs at home completing the task. “It gave us time to reflect and we were able to commit to memory many of the verses we wrote.”

The family completed the project on October 10, 2019, in the process using up 60 soft tip pens.

The Bible was opened on November 15, 2019, by Most Rev. Dr Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the head of the church, at an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the church in Dubai.

The Bible is housed in a custom-made case designed on the lines of the Biblical ‘Ark of the Covenant’ and can be seen at the Mar Thoma Church, Jebel Ali.