Palathinkal Family Tradition

Pakolomattom was the first Brahmin family to accept Christianity in Paloor village. It is believed that a branch of this ancient family called Edathil got divided into two units, one known as Thekkedam and the other as Vadakkedam. Some members of this Family later on moved and settled in Angamaly. A few others settled at Kaduthuruthy and helped in building a church there. It is said that in Kaduthuruthy, there were two families, known as Thekkedam and Vadakkedam. Later, some members of these families moved from Kaduthurthy and settled at Kuravilangadu. Even now the clans of these families are residing in the southern and northern sides of the Kuravilangad church, retaining their family names as Thekkedom and Vadakkedom. A few family members who settled at Kuravilangadu later on moved to Mallappally and settled there. The ancient Paavathikunnu family of Mallappally is a branch of the Thekkedathu family. The very famous Metropolitan of the Malankara Jacobite Church, Vattasseril Mar Dionatious Metropolitan hails from Paavathikunnu Family of Mallappally. Some members of the Vadakkedathu family, for the convenience of doing trading business moved from Kuravilangdu and settled at Athirampuzha. As this group found it difficult to go to Kuravilangadu for worship and other religious functions, they joined other traditional families of that area and co-operated in building a church at Athirampuzha.

The kingdom of Travancore, before it was united into one unit, had several smaller kingdoms (principalities) ruled by small-time rulers who were addressed as Rajas / Thampurans. At that time, Kottayam was ruled over by Thekkumkoor Thampuran and his kingdom extended from Kaipuzha in the north to Kaippattoor in the south. His capital was known as Thaliyilkotta. After Vadakkedathu family settled at Athirampuzha, Thekkumkoor Raja decided to visit the southern parts of his kingdom. The Raja and his entourage came in boats and landed at Kodimatha, late in the evening. He was keen to go back to his palace at Thaliyilkotta, which was about a mile and a half away. There were no proper roads in those days and neither were there lights (lamps) to help travel at night. They were using oil lamps, but at that time they did not have oil to light the lamps. The royal servants went in search of oil, but returned empty handed. They also reported that there were no shops in that area. Christians were the only people who were merchants in those days. This information (ie that there were no shops) agitated the Raja and he was very upset. The Raja further enquired whether there were any Nazrani (Christian) families around the place. The answer he got was negative. The story further narrates that ultimately, with the help of naked torch made with dry coconut leaves, they travelled from Kodimatha to Thaliyilkotta.

This accidental experience made the Raja think deeply and he took a decision. He knew that the presence of Nazranis or Syrian Christians was necessary for the development of trade and commerce. The Raja realised that the absence of Nazranis (merchants) at Kodimatha forced him and his party to seek naked torches for his travel to the palace from Kodimatha. To solve this problem, as well as to improve the commerce of his kingdom. the Raja decided to make a few Christian families to settle in Kodimatha. His search for Christian families extended up to Athirampuzha. Finally, the Raja invited a few Nazrani families belonging to Vadakkedathu clan who were progressively doing business there, to come and settle at Kottayam (Kodimatha). It is not surprising that they expressed their reluctance to move, as Kodimatha was not a conducive place for trade and also there were no Christians in that place. In spite of their reluctance the family head was persuaded by the Raja and also since the Nazranis had great respect and reverence for the royalty, they reluctantly agreed to relocate themselves at Kodimatha. The Raja as a reward for their loyalty gave them a gift of some landed property and paddy fields. Thus the first lot of Christians came and settled down at Kodimatha. At that time in Kodimatha, there were 72 Namboodiri, Nambiar, Nair and Maran families belonging to the upper castes. Over and above these 72 families, there was an Ezhava family called Kollanparampil and another Parava family called Paravanparambil. With the addition of Vadakkedathu Nazrani family, 75 families made the total population of Kodimatha. Thus Vadakkedathu was the first Christian family of Kodimatha. In those days also, there was a dilapidated bridge across the Kodoor river, not the present bridge. Vadakkedathu family settled on the northern side of the bridge and thus Vadakkedathu family came to be known as ‘Palathinkal’, which means ‘house near bridge’. The ancient family Palathinkal, thus came into existence at Kottayam.

Their ancient family house at Athirampuzha can be seen at Srikandamangalam on the western side near the Valiapally and the market, surrounded by paddy fields. Along with this family, other families namely Thekkedam, Thadam, Mathankunnel also resided in that area. Their primary occupation was agriculture and trading in the Athirampuzha market. These Christian families tried to build a church at Srikandamangalam. But, the landlords Ettunasseri Nambiyathiri and Punnakkal Nambiyathiri were not happy with their proposal. Whatever construction was done during the day time was damaged or destroyed during night by the mercenaries of these landlords. During those difficult days, Pazhayampalli Kaimal of a Nair family from Ettumanoor and his people volunteered to help the Christians and they helped them as night watchers till the church building was completed. As a token of gratitude and in remembrance of the help/ assistance extended by the Kaimals, the Pazhayampalli Kaimal’s family was given “Anchekalum Kooppum” on Kumbam first (February) when the grand annual feast was celebrated at Athirampuzha church.

The landed property gifted by the Thekkumkoor Raja at Kodimatha to Vadakkedathu family in appreciation for the loyalty shown is still with the clan of that family. The property was known as Akathilottu Parambu and Arakkal Parambu. At Kodimatha near the bridge where the Palathinkal family settled down was earlier used to be the anchorage of the royal boat. This land was also gifted by the Thampuran to Vadakkedathu family. Since this place was ideal for a jetty Vadakkedathu family built a house there mainly to store the merchandise they handled/traded. From this house/ shop they continued with their trading business. Later when Thekkumkoor Kingdom was conquered and annexed to the Travancore by the Travancore king, Thekkumkoor Raja abandoned his capital at Thaliyilkotta and moved to Edathummanal near Nattassery, on the eastern side of Kottayam town. The clan of the Rajas family is still living in this place. They are known as Edathil chieftains. Palathinkal family continued to supply coconut oil and other oil to this family and the Rajas were very particular in making prompt payments. In the earlier days, the Raja’s royal boat was maintained and kept in the custody of Palathinkal family. Now there are no male members of Vadakkedathu family in Athirampuzha. This family is now called as Kallumkal family.

Athirampuzha Chakkalakkal Thoma and others are from the female lineage of Vadakkedathu family. Since Thekkedathu and Vadkkedathu families moved to Athirampuzha from Kurvilangadu, when the members of these two families died their bodies were buried at the Kuravilangadu church cemetery. There were no proper or good roads in those days and since the cortege had to pass through the area where the Namboodiris and other Hindu communities lived and as they objected, Mannarkunnu at Srikandamangalam was later converted to be their cemetery. Some tombs can be seen even now. From the time Vadakkedathu family (later called Palathinkal) came and settled at Kodimatha, they along with other Christian families from Pallom, Kumarakom, Kiliroor, Thiruvarpu, Aymenam worshipped at Valiapalli. Later Vadakkumbhagar (non-knanites) built Kottayam Cheriapalli.

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