At present, Maramon Convention messages (full text) are printed and sold on the next day morning from counters for the convention attendees. This enables people to take home the sermons of the previous day and read them again and share the sermons with people who were not able to attend the convention. These printed sermons are also shared in cottage prayer fellowships, parish prayer groups and for personal prayer and meditation.
However, few people know that this practice started in 1905. There were no microphones and speakers. The convention messages were repeated in relay by three persons – at times four or more – standing in different places of the pandal to make it audible to the thousands of people who attended. This relay process took a long time and was tedious for the audiences. The printing of messages in 1905 became a real blessing for all and continues to be so today. Today, God has blessed the Church members with technology which enables them to watch the Convention live through web streaming and receive updates on emails and websites.
Given below is the report about this, from the Thomas Walker’s biography.
“1905 Wednesday, February 22. I awoke feeling very weary, for the heat was extraordinarily oppressive, and seemed to take all the life out of one. The Syrian brethren made one very good
arrangement this year. Each day’s addresses wore printed by night at their printing press at Tiruwella, eight miles away, and were on sale the next day in a booth near the pandal. Thus
the printed pages supplemented the speaker’s voice, and carried the message far and wide.”
~ Rev. Thomas Walker was one of the main speakers at the Maramon Convention from 1898 to 1912. He was a Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionary from Tirunelveli. He emphasized the importance on studying the Word of God (Bible) and to promote the missionary work of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.
Though the first convention began in 1895, the sermons were delivered to the tens of thousands of church members who attended in a very unique manner. Until 1936, messages of the main speaker were repeated in relay by designated people standing in between the participants of the convention. It was a time consuming process for the message from the front to pass through thousands of participants to reach the back of the audience. In 1936, a loud speaker and mike (microphone) set was brought to Maramon from USA by the famous missionary Rev. Dr. E. Stanley Jones. It was donated by one of the Christian Churches in USA. He was a well wisher of the Mar Thoma Church and encouraged the missionary zeal of the Church.
Read more and see more rare photos at 1921 -1970: World renowned missionary Dr. E. Stanley Jones at Maramon Convention ( See Rare Photos) Hear a sermon by Dr. E. Stanley Jones – Click Here (The sermon is 26 min. — or download the mp3 (11.8 MB).) The sermon title is, “The Gift of the Holy Spirit: The Birthright of All Christians.” The sermon was preached at a U.S. Ashram in August 1960. (This sermon is included in the 2008 book, Living Upon the Way: Selected Sermons of E. Stanley Jones on Self-Surrender and Conversion.) This audio clip is from www.methodistthinker.com
The use of tobacco and paan was a way of life in Kerala during the first half of the 20th Century. It was an essential item at social events such as marriages and other family gatherings. Tobacco and paan was easily available through shops all over Kerala. It was a common sight to have people attend the Maramon Convention meetings with beedi and murukkan in their pockets.
Through his messages, Dr. Stanley Jones urged people to refrain from the use of tobacco products. During one meeting, he asked the convention participants to bury their tobacco (which they were carrying) in the sand on the Pandal floor. In another meeting, he collected all the tobacco products from the people and burnt it near the Pandal in front of everyone. It is only after much persuasion that the people stop using it and today it is not permitted at the Maramon Convention pandal.
Dr. Eli Stanley Jones was born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA on 3rd Jan 1884. He was a faculty at Asbury College, Kentucky, USA when he was called to missionary service in India in 1907 under the Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
He was one of the main speakers of the Maramon Convention from 1921-1970. His messages combined evangelistic challenges with social concerns.
“For more than half a century Dr E Stanley Jones proclaimed the Gospel of Christ and applied it to people’s personal, social, national, and international problems. He moved among statesmen and among leaders without portfolios as counselor, friend and worker for peace and goodwill.
Dr Jones became a friend of Mahatma Gandhi and wrote an appreciative biography of Gandhi.In 1950 Dr Jones provided funds for India’s first Christian psychiatric center, and clinic currently known as Nur Manzil Psychiatric Center and Medical Unit at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
In 1946, with the help of friends in USA, he donated the first loud speaker setup to the Maramon Convention. He is also the founder of the Sat Tal Christian Ashram movement, Nainital, Uttarakhand,. He died January 25, 1973 in his beloved India.
In the 1920s, India began to develop greater appreciation for its own history and culture and greater pride in its own unique contributions to world civilization. Stanley Jones was one of the very first to realize the possibilities that this change in India’s intellectual and spiritual culture created for Christianity and especially for Western Christian missionaries. But he could not fully understand the astounding scope and depth of the possibilities without experiencing the history and culture of his adopted country for himself. So, what better way to immerse himself in the ethos of India than to visit Indian ashrams?
This is exactly what he did. In 1923 he spent two months at Santiniketan, the ashram of the world-famous poet, Rabindranath Tagore. Three years later in 1926 he visited Gandhi’s ashram at Sabarmati.
It is no exaggeration to say that Jones’ visits to these ashrams changed the course of his life. In fact, in 1930, he established his own ashram as a spiritual retreat for Christians modeled on his experience with Ashrams in India. But this was only the first of hundreds of Christian ashrams that would eventually be established throughout the world. These ashrams are truly the work of the Holy Spirit as they continue to inspire, refresh, and renew thousands of Christians in many nations today.
~ From “Ordinary Man, Extraordinary Mission: The Life and Work fo E. Stanley Jones” by Stephen A. Graham
The Kerala government authorities were always helpful in the organizing and running of the Maramon Convention. in 1940, with the help of C. K. Mathen Peshkar, (District Collector), the river bank (venue of the convention) was registered in the name of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church and a yearly tax of Rs.100/- is being paid every year as registration renewal fee.
Every year, several governmental organizations namely – the Kerala Water Authority, Kerala State Electricity Board, Water Resources Department, Public Works Department, Police, Fire and Rescue Force, Health Department and the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) work with the Church to make sure the Maramon Convention runs smoothly. Special KSRTC buses are also arranged to Maramon bus stand from depots in the district during the convention period. The security and organizational logistics in place for the lakhs of people attending the convention is made possible by the help of these governmental organizations and thousands of volunteers from the various parishes of the Church.
Most of the times Maramon Convention speakers are Christian leaders. At times, even Non-Christian leaders are invited to speak occasionally to express their views. On 9th March 1936, Mr. C. V. Kunjiraman (C.V. Kunhiraman), one of the prominent Ezhava leaders and General Secretary of the SNDP Yogam was given the privilege to speak at the convention. He was a social reformer and author of many books. This was an example of the religious harmony that existed in Kerala.
The first Maramon Convention was called ‘Pentecost Convention’ as the leaders and participants waited and prayed for the Holy Spirit’s presence to be present throughout the proceedings of the convention just like in the Book of Acts. It was conducted for 10 days from 9th March to 18th March.
In a circular issued to all the Church parishes, Titus I Mar Thoma Metropolitan entrusted the complete responsibility of conducting the Maramon Convention to the Evangelistic Association.
Palakunnathu Madathil Koshykunju (Titus I Metropolitan’s elder brother) volunteered to take charge of the Pandal construction with the help of parishes in and around Maramon, Kozhencherry and Edayaranmula. Members of these surrounding parishes donated the thatched roof made from the coconut leaves and came out in large numbers to help set up the pandal (tent).
According to news reports an estimated 2 lakh people visit the convention daily. The convention takes place on the river bed under a sprawling temporary shed, made of coconut leaves, which will seat about 100,000 people.
Rev. Thomas Walker was one of the main speakers at the Maramon Convention from 1898 to 1912. He was a Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionary from Tirunelveli. He emphasized the importance on studying the Word of God (Bible) and to promote the missionary work of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church. His inputs were instrumental in inspiring and the beginning of many Mar Thoma Missionary projects across India.
9th November, 1917: Birth of Dr.Sosamma Philip, Medical Missionary. Dr. Sosamma was the daughter of Late Rev. M.C. George Kasseesa (17 April 1874 – 23 October 1923) of Maliyekkal House, Kuriannoor.
The Late Most Rev. Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan (10 April 1913 – 11 January 2000) was her elder brother. Dr. Sosamma passed her final school examination in 1933, but she couldn’t afford a college education. She joined the undergraduate teacher’s training course in Tiruvalla and then became a teacher in Kuriannoor Middle School. The family had to sell a portion of their ancestral property to pay for her dowry.
In 1940, she married Dr. P.V. Philip (Palathinkkal, Kottayam), who was working with the Mission Hospital in Karappuram, Cherthala. But unfortunately, Dr. Philip died after nine months of their marriage. She also lost her mother, three months later. Dr. Sosamma had an earnest desire to continue the medical work of her departed husband. She joined Alwaye U.C. College and passed her intermediate examinations and applied for a seat in Christian Medical College, Vellore. As she did not get admission at CMC Vellore, she joined the American College in Madurai and finished her B.A. and then joined the Nicholson School, Tiruvalla, as a teacher.
But the desire for a medical education was burning in her heart, so she applied again and this time she secured an admission in Christian Medical College, Vellore. Immediately after getting her Medical degree, she joined the Karapuram, Cherthala Mission, where her husband had worked. After further passing her specialization courses in Chicago, she worked with the Kumbanad and Kattanam hospitals for many years.
In 1967, she joined the Sihora Ashram Hospital in Madhya Pradesh and remained there till her retirement, 30 years later in 1997. As recognition of her work and social service, the Church awarded her the “Manava Seva Award”.
After her retirement, she returned to stay with her relatives in Kuriannoor. She was called to her eternal home on 4 May 2008 and was buried beside her parents at the St.Thomas Mar Thoma Church Cemetery in Kuriannoor.
4 September, 1847: Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) writes the Hymn “Abide with me” (Malayalam – Koode paarkka neram vaikkunnitha, No.8 (7) in Kristheeya Keerththanagal). Lyte wrote this hymn at the end of his life, just two months before he died. The text for this Hymn was taken from Luke’s Gospel Ch.24 v. 29 “Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent”.