There have been several great souls in the Syrian Christian Community who rose to partake in the freedom struggle for India’s Independence. As India enters the 75th year of Independence, Nalloor Library would like our readers to remember a few freedom fighters who represented the Syrian Christian community and share their stories in their Sunday Schools and meetings across the world. This list is no means a complete list and only four have been chosen as representatives. We salute each and every freedom fighter across this great nation who participated in the freedom struggle and those who gave their lives for India’s freedom. Jai Hind!
Shri Thevarthundiyil Titus also known as ‘Titusji’ – Dandi March
The historic Dandi Salt march by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 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’. 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.
Mr. O. C. Chacko of the Indian National Army (INA)
Mr. O. C. Chacko was part of the Indian National Army (INA) of Subash Chandhra Bose and member of the Kuriannoor Mar Thoma Church, Pathanamthitta, Kerala. We post a link to a write up that was published on his 100th (centenary) birth anniversary.
Rev. C.V.George B.A., B.L
General Secretary of the Mar Thoma Sunday School Samajam. He was the only Mar Thoma Priest who is recognized and awarded as a freedom fighter by the Government. Before his ordination, he was in jail for almost a year for his participation in the Freedom movement of India.
George Joseph, a barrister, fiery nationalist, avant-garde journalist, pioneer trade unionist, and ardent champion of important public causes, has etched an indelible place in the history of India’s war for Independence. He hailed from Kerala and was not just a pioneer in several fields, he was also a staunch supporter of Annie Besant’s Home Rule movement and Gandhiji’s Non-Cooperation movement during India’s freedom struggle.
He was born in Chenganoor (Kerala) in 1887, which at that time was part of the Travancore Kingdom. He completed his Law at the University of Edinburgh and it was during his stay in London that he became acquainted with notable freedom fighters like Madam Cama, S K Verma, S R Rana, and Veer Savarkar. He returned to India after finishing his education and though he established his legal practice initially in Chennai, he eventually shifted it to Madurai. George Joseph went on to become a famous criminal lawyer in Madurai. From the time he started practising there, he championed the cause of Madurai’s tribes, such as the Piramalai Kallars and Maravars. In 1920, following the Perungamanallur firing (also referred to as the Jallianwalla Bagh of the South), the British implemented the Criminal Tribes Act, labelling these groups as criminals. He vehemently opposed the Act by voicing his opinions in newspapers and he also represented these communities in court proceedings. The residents of these settlements gave him the name ‘Rosapoo Durai’ (a Rose amongst Leaders), as a symbol of their gratitude. ~indianculture.gov.in
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.
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,
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
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.
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:
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.
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
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
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 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 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.
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