Tag Archives: Kerala Christians

Remembering Ms. Bagshaw – Hoskote, an example of Christian spirit and service

(Photo details. MS. Bagshaw and Ms.Carnoe of ‘House of Praise’ with family of Mr. M.T.Joseph) Copyright – Nalloor Library

Pages from History: – Beginning of Hoskote Mission in 1947 and A Big Salute to Ms. Bagshaw.

The first missionaries (The founders – Rev. A.C.Zachariah and family and Mr. M.T.Joseph and family) of the present Hoskote Misson Medical Centre reached Hoskote on 27 June 1947. The Cubbon Park Prayer fellowship of the Bangalore Mar Thoma Paresh provided them the necessary help. The missionaries were whole heartedly welcomed by the Brethren Mission Church which had an orphanage “House of Praise “ in Hoskote town. The head of the Orphanage, Miss. Bagshaw and her staff in true Christian spirit accommodated the new mission workers with them in the House of Praise for about six months till they found their own rented houses in the town.

The early years of Ashram living was really tough. There was no regular income but survival was the main concern, to convert the hard ground to grow crops, it took, years of toil, sweat and hard work. The only answer was hard physical labour to make their living. Both families joined hand in hand, they were of one heart and mind, they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had.

The first kind offer from the local community was to fetch drinking water from the Panchayat President’s residence. (Shri. Chenna byre Gowder). Thanks to this friendly family in God’s providence for their kindness.

The second offer was to buy the 9 acres of land for the Christa Sakshya Sangha work. Thus the land, where the present Headquarters of the Mission is situated, was bought in 1951-52 for a price less than Rs. 5000.

In the year 1953 Alexander Mar Theophilus Thirumeni (later the Head of the Mar Thoma Church – Rt. Rev. Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan) collected the funds for the construction of two mission quarters, a chapel building and a camp shed The two families shifted their residences from rented houses in the town to their own houses in the Mission Compound.

Hoskote Mission History – Abraham and Sara

Pages from History:

First Fruits of the Hoskote Mission – Abraham and Sara

Even though the missionaries earned the love and respect of many people in the town and surrounding villages through their life and testimony, people were very hesitant to join the new faith. The first one who joined the fellowship of the Church through baptism was a young man from Hoskote who received the Christian name Mathai. Narasimha and his wife, Rethnamma, were residents of the Gonakhanahally village. Rethnamma came into contact with the ladies’ team at Jedigenahally and became a Christian and accepted the Christian name Saramma. Later Narasimha was also baptized and received the name Abraham. Both of them were active members of the mission. Their tombs in Ghonakhanahlly village stand as a witness to their faith, 

Parish History: Kuriannoor Mar Thoma Church

THE MAR THOMA CHURCH, KURIANNOOR

A BRIEF HISTORY

Old undated photo of the old Kuriannoor Mar Thoma Church and the present church building. (Images from Nalloor Library Archives)

St. Thomas, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, came to India in A.D.52 and established 7 churches in the Malabar Coast of Kerala, in South India. Niranam St. Mary’s Church was one among them. Believers in and around Niranam, Changanassery, Edathua, Chambakulam, Chengannur, Maramon, Kalloopara, Chennithala, Paliyekkara and Puthiyakavu used to worship in that Church. Members of the Niranam Parish, who were staying in Maramon area, found it extremely difficult to attend church services in Niranam regularly. In those days, country boats (Kettuvallams) were the only mode of transportation (there were no road transport facilities). This led the believers in the Maramon area to establish the Maramon Church on 28 August A.D.1440. Our forefathers worshiped in the Maramon Church until a Mar Thoma Church in Kuriannoor was established in 1879.

The year 1837 bore witness to a spiritual reformation in the Mar Thoma Church, mainly under the leadership of Palakkunnathu Abraham Malpan Achen (1796-1845). The reforms included translation of liturgy into Malayalam, emphasis on the study of the Holy Bible, family worship, and evangelization of the Gospel. Abolition of prayers for the dead and some unscriptural practices, such as statues, invocation of saints and some unhealthy veneration of sacraments were banned. 

As there were no proper roads, the journey from Kuriannoor to Maramon was difficult and tedious, especially for funerals during the monsoon season. The Neelethu Pallikkoodam, a shed on bamboo poles, thatched with coconut leaves that was being used as a prayer hall cum school, was altered as the Mar Thoma Church, Kuriannoor in the year 1879 by Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan (1837-1893 The Mar Thoma XIV).  Rahoor Scariah Kathanar was the first Vicar of the Kuriannoor Church.  Two of the Mar Thoma Metropolitans, viz. Titus I Mar Thoma (Dethose Kathanar (1843-1909) and Titus II Mar Thoma (P.J. Dethose Kathanar (1866-1944) were vicars of our parish when they were achens.  Due to an increase in the membership/population, St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church was formed in 1897 and Salem Mar Thoma Church in 1902.

Rev. M.C. George, (1874-1923) Maliyekkal was the first full time priest for Kuriannoor from 1903 as former vicars were in charge of Maramon Church as well. The English School, Kuriannoor was started in 1921 thanks to the leadership of Rev. M.C. George.  Rev. T.M. Mathai (1883-1970) Punnathundiyil was our vicar from 1924. During the reign of Titus II Mar Thoma, a beautiful church building was constructed under the leadership of Vicars Rev. K.I. Varkey (1877-1948), Kizhakkethalakkal, Edathua, Rev. K.M. Mathai (1899-1959), Kuttamathayyethu, Puthenkavu, and Rev. Abraham Mathew (1902-1960), Elamittethu, Moovattupuzha Valakom.  Our forefathers spent about eight years and a sum of Rs. 3150/- to complete their ardent desire of a place of worship. It was dedicated on 12th April 1940. 

All the three Mar Thoma Churches in Kuriannoor were under the Vicarship of a single Achen till 1963. Rev. M. V. Abraham, Ashtamudy was the first Vicar who was solely in-charge of our parish. He managed to purchase 28 cents of land for a parsonage for Rs. 7500/-. Our first parsonage was completed in 1969 under the leadership of Rev. C. M. Thomas (1907-2001), Cherukara, Ayroor and Rev. K. A. Joshua, Mallassery. 

The Centenary of the Church was celebrated during the year 1979 under the leadership of Rev. P. M. Samuel, Nelladu. Twenty cents of land adjacent to the church compound was purchased in December 1977, and the Centenary Hall was built there, which was consecrated on 6th May 1979.

Construction of the present, spacious and beautiful church building, with a parish hall underneath, was commenced during the year 2001, the plan of which was approved during the tenure of Rev. James M. Koshy Veeramala as Vicar.  Rev. Achenkunju Mathew, and Rev. M.V. George (1952-2012) subsequent Vicars of the parish, worked tirelessly to complete the Church building, which was consecrated on 3rd September 2005 by His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Metropolitan in the presence of Dr. Joseph Mar Irenaeus Suffragan Metropolitan. 

Rev. M. V. George laid down the idea for the present parsonage in the year 2008, which was completed during the tenure of Rev. M. Mathew as Vicar. The new parsonage was consecrated by His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan on 23rd March 2010. 

Rev. M.C. George (1874-1923), Maliyekkal, Rev. T.M. Mathai (1883-1970), Punnathundiyil, Rev. C.M. Thomas (1893-1956), Kochuparampil, and Rev. C.M. Abraham (1923-2008), Cheriyavadakkedathu, who were strong pillars of the Mar Thoma Church in the past belonged to our parish.  Ambattu Varkey Upadeshi, Poozhikkalayil Ipe Mathen (1796-1890) Poozhikkalayil Thomma Upadeshi (1830-1912), Cherukattu Geevarghese Upadeshi, Thanathodathil Mathen Upadeshi, Kolabhagathu Geevarghese Ashan (1855-1938), Eruthikkal E.V. Philip Sar, Nalloor Joseph Sar (1910-1992) etc. were strong lay leaders of our parish in the past. 

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

~ Jeremiah 17:7-8 | NIV

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Padma Shri awarded to Dr. Sosamma Iype (renowned scientist and conservationist)

On the eve of the 73rd Republic Day on 25th January 2022, the Government of India announced the recipients of the prestigious Padma Awards. Among the notable names was Dr. Sosamma Iype (renowned scientist & conservationist) who was awarded with the Padma Shri for her work in saving the rare breed of Vechur Cow. She is a member of Thrissur Ebenezer Mar Thoma Church and hails from Niranam.

Nalloor Library congratulates Dr. Sosamma Iype on being conferred this national honour.

Image from https://krishijagran.com

Dr Sosamma Iype, 82, who is known as “Vechur’s Amma”, saved the rare breed of Vechur Cow from the brink of extinction and put up tremendous efforts to increase its population. A retired Veterinary Professor and researcher at the Mannuthy Veterinary College in Thrissur, she set up Vechur Conservation Trust to look after the unique cattle breed of Kerala. Now, there are 5,000 to 6,000 Vechur cattle in Kerala.

Sosamma, who took PhD from the National Dairy Research Institute, was the head of the Department of Genetics and Animal Breeding. Her story of how she overcame the opposition to the popularisation of breeding of Vechur cattle appeared in “Njayarazhcha” on its January 16th edition. Sosamma hails from Niranam in Kuttanad. She resides in Mannuthy. Late Abraham Varkey was her husband.

~ www.onmanorama.com

Dr. Soamma Iype initiated the process of rehabilitation and conservation of the nearly extinct Vechur cow in 1988, along with other indigenous breeds of Kerala, such as Kasargod and Cheruvally cattle and Attappady goats.

Read more articles:

https://www.manoramaonline.com/news/sunday/2022/01/16/sunday-special-story-about-drsosamma-iype.html

https://www.mathrubhumi.com/agriculture/features/dr-sosamma-iype-who-preserves-vechoor-cows-padma-shri-1.6391126

Vechurpasu Punarjanmam (Conservation Biology) by Sosamma Iype | വെച്ചൂർപശു പുനർജന്മം
‘Rebirth of Vechur Cows’. In the book, Dr. Sosamma Iype shares her 30 years of experience in conserving Kerala’s indigenous cattle breed Vechur cows and the hurdles she faced in her journey.

Sculptor P. E. Thomas – a life of dedication and art!

Read the amazing story about sculptor P. E. Thomas (1934-2017), the first student from Kerala at Visva-Bharati University founded by Rabindranath Tagore. Thomas was born in Mallappally, a town in south Kerala, to Poykamannil P M Eppan and Annamma. He completed his basic education at Kottayam CMS School and College. His art work adorn many notable places.

One of them being”Nalla Idayan,” a concrete structure weighing two tonnes erected at the Marthoma House in Kozhikode, was completed by Thomas at the behest of Theodosius Marthoma Metropolitan, who was the then Kozhikode Bishop and alumni of Visva-Bharati University.

“Rhythm” and “Dance of Death”, fashioned out of plaster of Paris in 1966, were kept on (the Lawrence School, Lovedale), Ooty school premises; “The “Family” (1975) told the story of a bold family head who told his family members to emancipate themselves. The statue of Christ at Gethsemane at Kandal Cross Shrine, Ootty, the “Elephant” designed for the Postal Department at Thaipakkad tourist centre, the statues of ‘sage Patanjali and the Snake’ in front of the Madras Regiment Hospital at Wellington and the Little Horse at the needle factory at Ketti in Tamil Nadu are some of his major works.

Click to read more at OnManorama.com – https://www.onmanorama.com/entertainment/art-and-culture/2021/12/20/p-e-thomas-master-malayali-sculptor-visva-bharati-santiniketan.html

Malankara Sabha Tharaka feature- Oct 2021

Nalloor Library content was featured in the Mar Thoma Church’s official magazine – Sabha Tharaka October 2021 edition (p 20-21).

It features two important individuals and their stories. You can read about it in detail using the links below:

Rev. Advocate C.V.George B.A.,B.L

Rt. Rev. Dr. Juhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan

We are Seven! Thank you readers!

It’s that time of the year when we say a big Thank You to all our readers and well wishers! We are encouraged by every message and email we receive from around the world and we pray for your continued support as we turn seven. A dream that started seven years ago has inspired many to take interest and get to know their history and traditions.

Readers and Parishes have reached out from far and wide, telling us how our resources are being used in Parish Bulletins, Sunday School textbooks, VBS, Summer camps, sermons, prayer groups and much more. We have made new friends on the journey and social media has enabled us to take the rich cultural history and tradition of our Church to many more readers. It is ever so important for us now to document and preserve our memories and history for the future generations. We request that you keep us in your prayers.

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” ~ Robert Kennedy

“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” ~ Psalm 106:1

K.K. Kuruvilla – Headmaster & Principal of M.T. Seminary, Kottayam

K. K. Kuruvilla spent most of his life teaching and is considered as one of the greatest educationalists of the former Kingdom of Travancore (now part of Kerala). The Mar Thoma Church wanted Kuruvilla to become a bishop along with Abraham Mar Thoma Thirumeni (1880-1947), but God had other plans for him. God Almighty blessed and used him in the field of education at large and social upliftment of the poor and downtrodden in the society.

A freedom fighter, an ecumenist, advisor to the Mar Thoma Metropolitans, host to Mahatma Gandhi, known to all as a simple man yet he left a mark on the Mar Thoma Church that should not be and cannot be forgotten. Do read this free Ebook in pdf format – K. K. Kuruvilla

27 September, 1947: Formation of the Church of South India (Video & Rare Photos)

CSI Church logo

27 September, 1947: Formation of Church of South India (CSI) in 1947, as a union of Anglican, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Methodist churches. The idea of a Church union was proposed in 1919 at a conference held in Tranquebar (now Tarangambadi) in 1919. After 28 years of discussions various denominational churches in South India established by different Missionary societies agreed to the formation of the Church of South India in 1947 after India attained independence. The inaugural ceremony was held at St. George Cathedral Madras (Chennai).

Today the Church of South India is one of the largest Protestant churches in India and is a member of the Anglican Communion and its bishops participate in the Lambeth Conferences. It is also a member of the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the National Council of Churches in India.

The Church of South India (CSI), Church of North India (CNI), and Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church of India jointly formed the Communion of Churches in India (CCI) in 1978 for mutual recognition of the ministry and leaders, inter communal relationship, and to explore possibilities of working together and other areas of cooperation in the fulfillment of the mission of the Church in India.

At the inauguration of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

At the inauguration of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

The presiding bishop of the inaugural function was the Rt. Revd. C. K. Jacob of the Anglican Diocese of Travancore and Cochin. A vast congregation gathered in the cathedral at Madras from all over the world. The following historical declaration was made by Bishop Jacob at the inaugural service.

“Dearly beloved brethren, in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ the head of the church, who on the night of his passion prayed that his disciples might be one, and by authority of the governing bodies of the uniting churches whose resolutions have been read in your hearing and laid in your prayer before Almighty God; I do hereby declare that these three churches, namely – the Madras, Madura, Malabar, Jaffna, Kannada, Telugu, Travancore Church councils of the South India United Church; the Methodist Church of South India, Trichinopoly, Hyderabad and Mysore districts; the Madras, Travancore and Cochin, Tinnevelly and Dornakal dioceses of the Churches of India, Burma and Ceylon; are become one Church of South India, and these bishops, presbyters, deacons and probationers who have assented to the basis of union and accepted the constitution of the Church of South India, whose names are laid upon this holy table, are bishops, presbyters and deacons of this church. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.” ~ wikipedia

Inauguration procession of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration procession of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration procession of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration procession of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Presiding Bishop Rt. Revd. C. K. Jacob at the Inauguration of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Presiding Bishop Rt. Revd. C. K. Jacob at the Inauguration of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Clergymen from 5 Protestant faiths attending the inaguration of the Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Clergymen from 5 Protestant faiths attending the inaguration of the Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

St George's Cathedral, Chennai (photo credit - wiki)

St George’s Cathedral, Chennai (photo credit – wiki)

CSI Diocese Map (image credit - www.csimichigan.org)

CSI Diocese Map (image credit – http://www.csimichigan.org)

 

Indian Government ‘Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial’ honours the only Christian Marcher Titusji (Rare Photos & Video)

Eternal Memory – ‘Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial’ a Project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. 

Titusji statue

The model of Titusji sculpture as part of the ‘Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial’ a Project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. (Photo copyright www.thehindu.com)

In a unique tribute to commemorate the historic Dandi Salt march by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930, India’s Ministry of Culture has set up a National Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial. IIT Bombay was given the responsibility to design, coordinate and implement the memorial project. The main memorial includes a statue of Gandhi inside a pyramid of light, followed by the life-size sculptures of the 80 marchers who participated in the Salt March. www.dandimemorial.org

Thomas Titus - Titusji

Shri Thomas Titus, son of Shri Thevarthundiyil Titus ji, one of the 1930 Salt Marchers in conversation with one of the Dandi Sculptors inside the Dandi Sculpture Workshop at IIT Bombay. (2013) (Photo copyright http://dandimemorialproject.blogspot.com)

See more photos of the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial on their official Flickr Page 

***

 

A short film by Prashant Sharma, capturing the spirit and energy of Dandi Marchers Sculptures’ Workshop 1 Team Members who came from all walks of life and from all over the world to make the ambitious Dandi Memorial Project a reality. The Dandi Memorial Sculptures’ Workshop is a project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, coordinated and implemented by IIT Bombay in association with an International Design Team.

***

Who was Shri Thevarthundiyil Titus also known as ‘Titusji’?

The Christian priest on the Indian Rs. 500 note to represent Titusji the only Christian in the Dandi Salt March along with Mahatma Gandhi.

The Christian priest on the Indian Rs. 500 note to represent Titusji the only Christian in the Dandi Salt March along with Mahatma Gandhi. (Currency note used for illustrative purposes only)

Everyday millions of Indians use the Indian 500 Rupee note with the image of the historic Dandi Salt march by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 that triggered the wider Civil Disobedience Movement leading to India’s freedom from the British. Among the marchers that would change India’s destiny was just one Christian and a Mar Thomite, Shri Thevarthundiyil Titus also known as ‘Titusji’. He is represented on the Indian Rs. 500 note as a “Christian Priest” (circled in blue in the image above). However he was sidelined and never received a pension from the Central Government, State Government or Freedom Fighter’s Associations. His own Church, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church seems to have no recollection of him or given him due recognition. Tituji’s home Parish, Maramon Mar Thoma Church or the Bhopal Parish St.Peter’s Mar Thoma Church which began in his residence have all but forgotten their illustrious son and his contribution to the nation’s freedom.

The image on the Indian 500 Rupee note is that of a sculpture made in tribute of the march in the heart of Delhi city, on the Sardar Patel Marg. The sculpture shows ten Indian people following Gandhi on his path-breaking civil disobedience protest, hence the name “Gyarah Murti” (Eleven Statues). The Christian priest was included to represent the only Christian in the march – Titusji. A devout Gandhian – he was known by the name Titus in his earlier days. “Titusji” was the name given to him by Mahatma Gandhi as a token of love and honour.

"Gyarah Murti” or "Eleven Statues with the priest highlighted in Red.

“Gyarah Murti” or “Eleven Statues with the priest highlighted in Red to represent Titusji who the lone Christian in the Dandi Salt March.

“Gandhi’s iconic retinue in the sculpture includes a woman with her head covered following close after him; a cluster of three men including a turbaned Sikh visibly of high pedigree, a Hindu scholar with a topi and an emaciated Muslim peasant; a Hindu man wearing a turban as a mark of intellectual distinction, with a religious mark etched on his forehead; an impoverished peasant looking far ahead, bearing no marks of class, caste or religion on his body; a Christian priest; another woman in a skirt and a young boy egging on a weary old man to travel farther.” ~ www.sodelhi.com

Titusji Potrait

About Titusji

Titusji (b.18 Feb, 1905) hailed from a farming family, (Theverthundiyil, Maramon) in Kerala. He was a member of the Maramon Mar Thoma Parish. After his high school graduation, he taught in a school in Vadasserikkara (a village about 20 km away from Maramon), for a few years and then joined the Allahabad Agriculture University and cleared an Indian Dairy Diploma course with distinction.

Titusji-The Freedom Fighter
Gandhiji’s way of life, his principles and his simplicity greatly influenced Titusji that he decided to join Gandhiji’s Ashram named” Goshala “in Sabarmati. The lifestyle there was simple and austere, to say the least. All the inmates in the Ashram were allowed only two pairs of clothing and every one had to do his own chores. Early morning after prayers and two hours of charkha, each one was assigned his or her duties.He was selected by Mahatma Gandhi as a secretary for his milk project in the Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad. Mr. Gulzarilal Nanda (who later became acting prime mister of India) was the secretary of another unit. Both of them were trusted friends of Gandhiji. Titus got married in 1933, to Annamma (Ikarethu House, Kozhencherry). Annamma, after her marriage, joined the Sabarmati Ashram and she donated her wedding ornaments to the Ashram. Gandhiji was very keenly interested in the activities of the dairy at the Ashram .It was in these formative years that Titusji got to know Gandhiji personally and his commitment to the freedom struggle was made stronger.

Titusji at the Dandi Salt March (4th from right) 1930

Titusji at the Dandi Salt March (4th from right) 1930

The Dandi March
.In 1930, when Mahatma Gandhi decided to break the salt law, he chose trusted Titus to be one of the selected 80 men. On March 12, 1930, Gandhi and 78 male satyagrahis set out, on foot, for the coastal village of Dandi, Gujarat, some 240 miles from their starting point in Sabarmati. Titusji was one of the satyagrahis who accompanied Gandhi in this historic event known as “Dandi March” or “The Salt Satyagraha.” Titusji was the only Christian in that group. They were beaten up and arrested by the British Police. Titusji was arrested during the march to the Dharasana Salt depot. He was initially imprisoned in the Jalalpur jail and subsequently shifted to the Nasik jail.

An interesting observation about Titusji’s participation in the Dandi march was that he was not wearing the Gandhi cap during the march. Apart from him, Gandhiji was the only other person who did not wear a cap. When some of the other marchers complained to Gandhiji about it, Gandhiji took the stand that no one should be compelled to wear one.

On being released from the prison, Titusji went back to the Sabarmati Ashram. In 1932 Gandhiji asked him to take charge of the ‘Goshala’ (Dairy farm) at the Ashram again. It was while he was here in 1933 that his marriage took place to Annamma, a caring, warm person who supported Titusji in all his difficult times.

Titusji and his wife Annama with daughter Aleyamma at Sabarmati Ashram 1935

Titusji and his wife Annama with daughter Aleyamma at Sabarmati Ashram 1935.

Titusji’s eldest daughter Aleyamma was born when he was at Sabarmati Ashram. In 1933, Gandhiji suddenly decided to disband the Ashram .Gandhiji’s instructions to Titusji was that he take the entire cattle out of the Ashram and protect the cattle. Following Gandhiji’s orders, Titusji shifted all the cattle and staff members out of the ashram and took shelter in a Panjrapole (animal shelter). Titusji slept in the stables beside the cattle through out the monsoon He worked hard to keep up the various activities of the Goshala. It was a tough life but since hardships were a way of life, Titusji did not have any problem obeying such orders.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Visit to Kerala – 1934 

During one of his visits to Travancore (Kerala) Titusji burnt British-made clothes (foreign clothes) in Kottayam and gave a fiery speech to thousands of Malayalees to join the freedom movement.

Mahatma Gandhi visited Titusji’s house in Maramon (Theverthundiyil) in 1934 on his way to the famous Hindu temple in Aranmula near Chengannur. He assured Titusji’s father that his son is safe and sound. This was considered one of the greatest events in Central Travancore. In and around Maramon, thousands witnessed his visit.

Involvement in Dairy  

Gandhiji by this time was totally busy travelling the length and breadth of the country in mobilizing the masses for the cause of independence. In-spite of his hectic schedules he still took interest in the activities of the ‘Goshala’ (Dairy farm) and was in touch with Titusji. Gandhiji in one of his letters to Titusji in 1933 wrote “I wanted to come and see the ‘Goshala’ (Dairy farm), but it was impossible for me to spare the time during the few hours that I was in Ahmedabad….I knew however that you were working very hard to make the ‘Goshala’ (Dairy farm) a success and to keep it in a clean condition….. I want you to write to me from time to time telling me all about the progress of the ‘Goshala’ (Dairy farm).”

Then in the middle of 1935, Gandhiji decided to handover the entire ashram property including ‘Goshala’ (Dairy farm) to the Harijan Sevak Sangh and then the Sabarmati Ashram thereafter ceased to be the hub of activities as far as the freedom movement was concerned. Titusji then worked in various Dairy farms as Manager in different parts of India. Due to the frequent change of places, his elder children Aleyamma, Titus and Easow stayed with relatives in Travancore .Then during the time of independence he was in Delhi as Manager with Keventers Diary.

In the early 50’s, Titusji moved to Jabalpur and then to Bhopal. His family now included the addition of four more sons Joseph, George, John and Thomas. He had one daughter and six sons. He then took a job as a Manager in Bairagarh Dairy, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

A couple of years later the Bairagarh Dairy closed down and the family had to go through a lot of hardships. Titusji had to sell off the family car and even his property in Maramon, Kerala. But he refused to ask for any special privileges as a freedom fighter. He then got a break by getting a Government job in Obaidullaganj as instructor in an Institute training Village Level Workers. It was a job of his liking. He stayed alone in Obaidullaganj and would return to Bhopal on Saturdays for the weekend and go back on Mondays. In those days a song sung by Mohammed Rafi ‘Suno suno ye Bapuji ki Amar Kahani ’was a favourite of his and used to be played in the Institute regularly.

The family kept shifting their residences in Bhopal from one rented house to another. After many ups and downs, Titusji managed to get a loan of Rs.16,000 and bought a piece of land in the Noor-Mahal area of Bhopal. The entire family worked hard to build the house which was promptly named ‘Lake View Cottage’ since it afforded a clear view of the Bhopal Lake. At that time, there were no other houses in the neighbourhood. The family shifted to this house in 1956.

In 1962, Titusji got a job in Bhilai Steel Plant establishing the dairy unit in the Bhilai Steel Plant Township. He arranged for the collection of milk from nearby villages and introduced for the first time pasteurization and bottling of milk with pilfer-proof aluminium foil using imported machines. This was then distributed to all the sectors of the township.

After retiring from Bhilai Steel Plant, Titusji worked with a Christian NGO in Siliguri, West Bengal. Later he shifted to Sodpur in 24 Parganas, West Bengal. Thereafter he served the World Council of Churches (Bengal Refugee Services) in Calcutta.

At this point of time he had to face personal loss. On 2nd of December 1964, his second son, 24 year old Joy suddenly had a heart attack in his office and died. The funeral was attended by thousands. But cruel fate had more in store for him. On 12th April 1965, barely two months after the sixtieth birthday of Titusji, his beloved wife Annamma passed away. She died of post operative complications after having undergone an operation for appendicitis.

Inspite of all the setbacks Titusji remained active in his work. He was selected by the Birla group for setting up a dairy in the township of Hindustan Motors in Uttarpara, near Calcutta. He did this successfully and then re-settled in Bhopal in 1972 for a quiet life with his children and grand children.

Titusji in his later years

Titusji in his later years

Titusji- A man of faith

Titusji had immense faith in God. This helped him to overcome the trials and tribulations in his life. His honest and simple way of life made it easier for him to lead the life of a true Christian. He believed in the dignity of the individual, irrespective of his or her origin or status. He strived to help the fellow human beings in which ever way he could. Titusji being one of the few Malayali gazetted officers in Bhopal in the early 50’s, helped many Keralites who used to come to him to get their certificates attested and also in case of other difficulties .His was one home to which people could turn to without hesitation and ask for any help. Annamma, his wife had this habit of visiting the nearby Government Hospital and offering food or any possible help to anyone needy. Having experienced tough days themselves, they knew the importance of helping out the unfortunate,the lesser privileged.

In Bhopal Titusji initiated the forming of a Christian Congregation. A few Marthomites who were in Bhopal in the fifties started the Sunday worship in October 1954 at the residence of Titusji. That was the beginning of the Bhopal parish and was a congregation of all Christian denominations except the Roman Catholics. As the number of members grew, the space became inadequate and the Sunday service was shifted to other spacious halls and later to local church buildings. He was an active and a well-known member of the St.Peter’s Mar Thoma Church, Bhopal. Titusji was the driving force behind the establishment of Christa Prema Kulam Mission Field at Sehatganj, which is on the Bhopal-Sagar National Highway, about 25 kms from Bhopal City. The land for the Ashram was given by him at a nominal cost.This mission field is currently doing commendable work in uplifting the condition of the rural people living in the area.

In 1970, he published the book “The Bharat of my Dreams” in which he revealed his hope for the nation,and for its teeming millions. He firmly believed that all are equal and hence there should not be any disparity.

He had one daughter and six sons. He passed away on 8 August, 1980, at the Kasturba Hospital in Bhopal and was buried in the Christian Cemetery there. He never got any medals or pension for his participation in the freedom struggle. We salute his humbleness, patriotism, and dedication to the nation.

It is a matter of great pride to the Mar Thoma Syrian Church that it had men of such vision like Titusji, who worked untiringly for the freedom of the country. We praise and thank God for such leaders like Mr. and Mrs. Titus of Bhopal on his death anniversary on 8th August and the country’s Independence Day on 15th August.

How can you not share this story with others. We hope that it will inspire more youth from our Church to be involved in nation building with selflessness and pure thoughts. 

*With inputs and photos from Ms. Renu Thomas, granddaughter of Titusji and Mr. & Mrs. John Titus (son and daughter in law of Titusji). 

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