PALATHINKAL FAMILY AND THE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES

History of Palathinkal family till their migration from Athirampuzha to Kodimatha, Kottayam is briefly explained in the earlier chapter on ‘Palathinkal Kudumba Parambarya Charithram’. Hence I am not going in detail into it further. However, I shall briefly touch upon the same peripherally to draw the connection between the ancient and present churches to which our members belong to.

Before the arrival of Portuguese missionaries, foreign Bishops (mainly from Persia) were assisted by ‘Jathiku Karthavyar’ or Arch Deacon to conduct day to day affairs of the church. Many of them were from Kuravilangadu and were members of Pakalomattom family. Even now, one can see 5 tombs of Arch Deacons from Pakalomattom family near the Kuravingadu church. Foundation was laid for a new church in 1599 and the church building was completed later. By this time, after the arrival of Portuguese, the community was divided into two groups ie. Malankara Sabha and Catholics.

The ‘Edathil’ family members are the descendants of Pakalomattom family. The Edathil branch got divided into two units, one known as Thekkedam and the other Vadakkedam. Later some of the family members moved to Angamaly. A few others then moved to Kaduthuruthy, settled down there and built a church there. Later, some of the Vadakkedam family moved and settled at Athirampuzha for convenience in doing trading business. As they found it difficult to go to Kuravilangadu to worship and to attend other religious functions, they joined with other traditional families around the area and built a church there.

Kuraviangadu St.Mary’s Church – Now.
The façade of the old church was re-modeled during 1980
The old St.Mary's church at Athirampuzha.
The facade as seen now, was redone later.
 

The Thekkumcore Raja, for improving the commercial activities of his Kingdom, invited and brought one family from Athirampuzha Vadakkedam family and settled them at Kodimatha near the anchorage of Raja’s boat and the site was on the northern side of the old Kodimatha bridge (palam). Hence, they were called Palathumkal or Palathinkal and their progeny was called Palathinkal family.

They were members of the Malankara church and along with other families worshipped at Kottayam Velliapally, which was built in 1550. The congregation of this church later split on ethnic lines and the dissidents called ‘Vadakkumbhagar’ built the Kottayam Cheriapally in 1579.

Velliapally at Kottayam built in 1550, now altered from the original
Kottayam Cheriapally built in 1579.
The Nadakashala was added in the 19th century.
 

Coming to the last 200 years, our history is closely connected with the reformist or Mar Thoma church. Mar Thoma Church claim themselves to be the true followers of the first independent church founded by St.Thomas, before it came in contact with other churches later and started following their rituals

When the group identified themselves with the issue of reformation, majority of the Palathinkal family members joined the progressive reformist Movement, which called themselves, the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar. These members contributed liberally to the growth of the church.

Members of Ullattil branch and a few from Kalathoor branch remained with Jacobite faction of Malankara Sabha.

A few Palathinkals joined the Anglican church (CMS), when the Anglican missionaries came to Travancore. Since the Anglican missionaries started and developed educational institutions also, those who joined the Anglican church received the advantage of the facilities offered by them and this move benefited them immensely, as they could acquire good English education. Thus they were qualified enough to hold very important positions in life. Some of them who excelled because of the higher education are Sri.P.Mathen Varkey (Varkey Magistrate, a doyen of the Judicial service then), Sri.P.Mathen Mathai (Major Mathai, who studied for Medicine in England on scholarship and served the British Army), Sri.P.V.Isaac (Imperial Entomologist of India/Burma/Ceylon) and Dr.P.V.Cherian (a renowned ENT specialist, who later graced the Raj Bhavan of Bombay as Governor of Maharashtra). They along with others played major roles in the Anglican (CMS) church in Travancore and outside the state.

Members of these Palathinkal families, who joined the Anglican church contributed back to the church in whatever way they could.

Vayana Peedam (Lectern) donated by Sri.Varkey Magistrate and placed in the Madhbaha of CSI Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kottayam.
A Plaque in memory of Mrs. Anna Cherian, first wife of Dr.P.V.Cherian, on the souther side, inside CSI Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kottayam
 

The Ullattil branch of the Palathinkal family was prominent among the 18 families, who jointly built the Kurisupally. The doyen of this Ullattil branch, Sri.Isaac Thomas (Kunjunju), donated 5 cents from his own property, near Thoombil bridge, Puthenangady, Kottayam for constructing a ‘Kurishumthotty’ for Kurishupally, in memory of his father Thommy Ithak. Foudation stone for the Kurishumthotty was laid by Baselius Geevarghese Dwideeyan Catholica Bava (Kurichy Bava) of Orthodox Church.

Kurisupally, Kottayam
Kurisinthotty of Kurusupally, donated by Sri.Isaac Thomas, Ullattil
 

Kunjukunju was Trustee of Kurishupally for many years. He was also a Member of the Managing Committee of Orthodox Church. He was Manager of St.Thomas Girls High School, Puthenangady and also a member of the Governing body of Baselius College, Kottayam.

Apart from the above, he donated 50 cents of his property to Orthodox church for constructing houses for old persons without a place to live. The main oil lamp used at the Kurishupally was donated by Sri.Isaac Thomas (Jr) (Babu) of Ullattil family.

As mentioned earlier, a large number of members of Palathinkal, Arackal and Kalathoor branches remained with the the Malankara Mar Thoma Church of Malabar. They extended whole hearted moral and financial co-operation to steady the fledgling Mar Thoma Sabha, which was like a rocking boat in ‘the turbulent sea’ then. The older generation may be able to recollect, the difficult formative days of the Malankara Mar Thoma Sabha, who parted company with the erstwhile Malankara Sabha, empty handed and with nothing to fall back on, except absolute faith in God and supreme determination to hold aloof the reformation Movement, which Abraham Malpan and Kaithayil Geevarghese Malpan proclaimed. Members of the Mar Thoma Church were mainly agriculturists with a few enterprising stalwarts who dabbled in trading and other such vocations.

For all of them, the church was ‘Nammude Sabha’ and not ‘Ente Sabha’, as many present day Christian Church members say.

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