Museum- Christian Cultural Centre Golden Jubilee Museum at Pala
Sep28

Museum- Christian Cultural Centre Golden Jubilee Museum at Pala

Christian Cultural Centre Golden Jubilee Museum at Pala is a rare Museum to feast on the priceless glory of antiquity , a treasure house of the diverse traditions of yester years, a niche rich in the remnants and relics of the exquisite past; a rare collection of the marvels of ingenious craftsmen centuries back; a sumptuous dish for hungry eyes indeed! Beyond the portals of the main entrance are the memories of the traditional architecture beauty of long past, it is one of those three halls where the history of the Church in Kerala sleeps embedded in silent sombre grandeur. The old curiosity shop presents the antique curios of ancient Christian churches like liturgical vestments; Tabernacles, Thrones; Ramsethis; candle sticks, chandeliers; glass lamps; Mons-trance four feet high; Chiselled statues of saints and venerables whose blessings are raining upon the world even now; pulpit orn amented with flowers of golden hue; giant baptismal font five feet in diameter….. “Alavattom”, Thazhakkuda, Thochakkal, Theevetty etc. that used to make the ancient festivals of churches a glory to behold and an event to remember…… The flood gates to magic casements are open….. The fairy world of fantasy opens in second hall. Piano and Violin that sing at full throated ease at the touch of a tiny finger; Veena; Bulbul; harmoniums of different variety; Tabala; Gramaphone with golden mouthpiece; old wall clocks; the early models of telephone; instruments for penitence like Chammatti and Mullaranganam; the list is endless…. Lamps old and new of different types; ranging from those done in bronze, tin, stone, hurricane lamps, Kolvilakku, Nilavilakku, Sararanthal, Kalvilakku, Kedavilakku, lamp with seven wicks used by Israelites etc…. are displayed in third hall. Agricultural implements like Plough, Yoke, Ploughshare, “Elachakram”, “Palli”, ‘Njavary’, Thekkuthotty Domestic utensils like “Kinnam”, “Montha”,Kolambi,”Murukkan chellam”, “Vettila thattam”, Korandi, ‘Chembu’, Varpu, Para.. it goes on. Boxes and containers of infinite shape and size : Kaalpetty, Olapetty, Aamapetty, Kaithara petty, Valavara petty, Abharana petty, Kuthupala, Kuttyppala, Kallu pala, Chottu pala, Morpala;….etc…Cooking and cleaning utensils like Splinter brooms, Kuttichool, Pulchool, Kanjikalam, Meenchatty, Thalikachatty, Koppachatty, Morinkalam, Jars and Vessels of different size and shape. Manichithrathazhu, Nalukettum Nadumuttavum, Chinese jars of exquisite beauty, giant jars made of stone and clay….Weapons of offence and defence – Swords, Churika etc. and so on. Old measuring and weighing instruments like Thooni, Thudam, Chothana, Naazhi, Changazhi, Sehr, Kutty, Kazhanchikol, Vellikol, Thu lash, Anthriott, Kalkkatti and so on of yester years.Nannangadies: used by ancient people to bury the dead; “Kabar”, “Kuttikabar”, Cradles…..Crosses: Persian, Ethiopian, African, St. Thomas… to name only a few. Miniatures of the Tower of Pisa, Pieta, Roman Colossium, Eiphel Tower, St. Peter’s Basilica etc….. Old Printing press,...

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What Every Nasrani Needs to Know–And Doesn’t
Aug06

What Every Nasrani Needs to Know–And Doesn’t

There are huge wooden doors and spacious door-ways at the front and side entrances to the naves and in the gate houses in Kerala Churches. To protect the front and side doors from inclement weather there are pillared porticoes, which have benches inside to sit down. The three sided gabled roof of the portico has a Monthayam in front at the junction of the three sloping sides which often has exquiste wooden carvings. The porch Columns, rafters, and beams display the skill of Kerala’s carpenters. The Mammoth pillar-less roofs of the churches are skillfully crafted from Kerala’s renowned timber varieties like Teak and rosewood. Many Churches are vertiable museums of old glass lamps, Chandeliers, Candelabras, Colourful mercury globes and prisms. There are also many varieties of bronze lamps in the churches such as the bird lamp, the Peacock lamp, the Hanging lamp, the many-storeyed floor lamp, the Kuthuvilaku, the Kolvilakku and the Kindivilakku. The Elephant Lamp of Kanjoor and the hanging lamp of Ramapuram are famous. The four lions of the Asoka Stampa are to be seen again on the pedestals of the baptismal fonts at Edappally and Kanjoor. The huge stone baptismal fonts of Kaduthuruthy, Changanassery, Kadamattam,Kalluppara, Kottayam, Chengannoor, Mylakombu and Muthlakodam have depictions of leaves, flowers, creepers and biblical scenes in addition to basket and coir patterns. The balconies have huge gold coated beams supported by highly realistic wooden Elephants. The Wooden railing separating men from women in the nave and the Bhandarams in wood, metal or stone have remarkable artistic distinction. The wooden pulpit or rostrum is called Puzhpam meaning flower. The wooden stem or Stalk of the flower-like pulpit proceeds from the mouth of a Lion, an Elephant or a Dragon. There are interesting Puzhpams at Ollur, Thrissur, Chungam, Palai, and Kanjoor. The 40 foot wooden pulpit of Ollur is perhaps the tallest in Asia. The Evangelists and Saints carved on the pulpits are both beautiful and inspiring. Heaven is represented by the chancel or Madbaha where the Altar is located. There are 3 Altars inside the Madbaha in the West Syrian tradition of Kerala while in the East Syrian tradition the 2 side Altars are found outside the Madbaha. The Altar, the reredos or Altarpiece, and the ceiling of the Madbaha are glorious examples of wooden Sculpture. To prevent the ceiling panels from bending they are coated with mud and some herbs. The Mammoth Altar-pieces are made of wooden blocks joined together without the use of metal nails. They have gold encrusted carvings of Flowers, leaves, plants and creepers. There are also apostles and Saints in wooden relief, in addition to pillars, pilasters, and...

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Hindu Traditions of St. Thomas –Thondacchan and the Four Silver Coins
May22

Hindu Traditions of St. Thomas –Thondacchan and the Four Silver Coins

The worship of Thondachan, a Hindu family deity, by a particular lineage of Nairs (native martial clan) of Malabar, Kerala, and especially the manner and ritual of this worship is noteworthy. Though a family deity, Thondachan is never worshipped within the Nair household. Nor has this deity been ever given a berth among the pantheon of Hindu gods at any of the Hindu temples presided over by the Brahman priests (called Namboodiris). Thondachan has a special altar built outside the Nair family compound, where non-Brahmin priests perform rituals. While Chaamundi, Vishnumoorthy, Pottan, Rakteshwari and Bhagavathi became the non-Aryan non-Brahmin deities for the village folk of Kolathunaad (an ancient province of North Kerala) along with other primitive spirits and folk-heroes, Thondachan has an even smaller following among a select Nair clan. It is believed, that up to the present day, altars for Thondachan’s worship exists in the Cherukunnu area in Kannur (Cannanore) district, especially in the lands surrounding old tharavad houses (ancestral mansions) of the Nairs. When Thomachan (the apostle St. Thomas, – achan, signifying ‘father’) came ashore, landing at Maliankara near Moothakunnam village in Paravoor Thaluk in AD 52, (this village located 5 kilometers from Cranganoor (Kodungallur), Muziris, on the coast of Kerala), some of his followers as well as other sailors and merchants were suffering from a severe form of scurvy. Thomachan himself suffered from a sore throat which he chose to ignore, and which grew steadily worse, until no voice emanated from his lips for many days.A local Jew named Matan took the weary travelers to a local Nair tharavad (locally known as Kambiam Vallapil), in the province of Kolathunaad, a territory comprising the present Cannanore District and Badagara Taluk of Kerala State. It is said that at the time of Thomachan’s arrival at the Nair tharavad, the Nair karnavar (landlord or head of family) lay injured from a grievous wound that had been inflicted upon him in a feudal duel. Upon seeing this, Thomachan sat beside the injured man and meditated, laying his hands on the man’s head, his throat, his chest and his groin. Immediately the karnavar felt relieved from pain, and his healing was hastened. Within a day he was up and about, his wounds nearly healed. In return, the Nair household offered shelter to the strangers and called upon their family physician to cure the scurvy that the travelers suffered from, as well as Thomachan’s severely infected throat. Nellikaya (Emblic Myrobalan or Indian Gooseberry) based potions prepared by the tharavad was used to cure the sea-worn voyagers. In an act of gratitude, Thomachan is said to have blessed them, and gave them four...

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Churches on demolition line – Ramapuram Twin Churches
May01

Churches on demolition line – Ramapuram Twin Churches

Beautiful Isn’t? These are the historic twin churches at Ramapuram, one of the cradles of Christianity in Kerala, India. The smaller of these, in the name of St. Augustine, was built around 1450, and the other in 1864. These monuments may be razed to the ground soon. What no invader, no government, no other community, have dared to try, is being done with abandon by the Church itself. Aisanet TV reported last evening that a referendum is being conducted among the parishioners of Ramapuram on Sunday, April 29, 2007 about demolishing these famous shrines. The Church officials have taken a strong stand in favor of the destruction. Therefore the outcome of the vote is a foregone conclusion. The priests do not seem to be worried whether such actions and procedures conform to the laws of the country. The move to demolish the twin churches and build a ‘modern’ one in their place has been on for some time. The Hindu carried a report about this on February 18, 2005. The reason given for this proposal by the Vicar was that more space is required to accommodate the increased number of pilgrims! Apparently he was not alert to the fact that the newer of the two churches was also built for the same reason, but people who were responsible then had ensured that the old one was preserved. The vicar went on to give a piece of wisdom to the world: “God created the whole world for man. Archaeology is for the benefit of man and not vice-versa”. Shades of Benito Mussolini! Il Duce was reported to have said when his car knocked down and killed a boy, “What is the life of a child in the matters of state?” The Syro-Malabar Church of Kerala, under which Ramapuram comes, is the second largest (after Roman /Latin) Rite in the Catholic Diaspora. It is headed by a Major Archbishop who is a Cardinal. Can the authorities of the Syro-Malabar wash off the responsibility for the demolition mania? What about the Pope? In the recent Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Sacramentum Caritatis’, the Pontiff states, “A solid knowledge of the history of sacred art can be advantageous for those responsible for commissioning artists and architects to create works of art for the liturgy. Consequently, it is essential that the education of Seminarians and priests include the study of art history, with special reference to sacred buildings…” Let us join hands in this initiative and preserve our heritage. The construction of the present twin structure, should have been a lesson for those who call for destruction of the old church. Long time back we had this...

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The Muziris Heritage Project- News
Apr08

The Muziris Heritage Project- News

The Muziris Heritage Project The Muziris Heritage Project is a novel attempt at the behest of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Govt of Kerala. It aims at retrieving the historical heritage of the Kodungallur-Paravur region and plans a combination of heritage management initiatives in its restoration, conservation and access to the public. KCHR, identified as the nodal agency for Muziris Heritage Project provides academic guidance and undertakes archaeological / historical research in the region. KCHR Chairman Dr. K.N.Panikkar submitted a concept note on Muziris Heritage Project pointing out the possibilities and potential of the proposal.1 Pattanam Excavations 2007 The Pattanam excavations was the first ever multi- disciplinary excavation undertaken in Kerala State. The first part of the project was a surface survey for archaeological and historical evidence in the region. This was followed by extensive excavations at the early historic urban site of Pattanam. Pattanam is located in Chittatukara Panchayat -Vadakkekkara village, lying between Kodungallur and North Paravur in the Periyar Delta in Ernakulam district, Kerala. The main objective of the excavation was to search for archaeological evidence that would help to locate/identify an early historic urban settlement and the ancient Indo-Roman port of Muziris or Musiri on the Malabar Coast. The excavation was carried out from 18th February to 8th April 2007 in collaboration with A.S.I, State Department of Archaeology and Tourism and Revenue Department. Dr. P J. Cherian who was awarded license by the ASI was the Director and Dr. V. Selvakumar and Dr. K.P. Shajan the Co – Directors of the Pattanam Excavations. The site at Pattanam covers approximately 1.5 sq. km and the core area measures about 600 x 400 m. The north-eastern part of the site was chosen for excavation based on the surface exploration undertaken earlier. Four Trenches (PT 07 I ,PT 07 II, PT 07 III, PT 07 IV) and one trial trench (PTT 07 I) covering an area of 125 sq. m. was systematically excavated. The “locus methodology” adopted for this excavation distinguished each layer/feature/pit/structure/ activity area on the basis of colour, texture and composition. Many important finds were obtained like human bones, storage jars, a gold ornament, glass beads, stone beads, utilitarian objects made of stone, copper and iron, typical pottery, early Chera coins, brick wall, brick platform, ring well, wharf with bollards, and a six meter long wooden canoe parallel to the wharf structure about 2.5 m. below surface level. The structures indicate a vast ‘urban’ settlement. The excavations suggest that the site was first occupied by the indigenous “Megalithic” (Iron Age) people, followed by the Roman contact in the Early Historic Period. It appears that, the site was...

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