Kerala has numerous historical delights that would awe and inspire you. The Parumala church is one such place. The center of attraction is not just the church, but the person that inspired the building of the church. Located on the shores of Pampa River near Kottayam, the church and the person behind it act like magnetic forces, attracting thousands of devotees all year through.
Parumala was initially a small stretch of land where Malankara Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysius wished to establish a seminary for teaching deacons. And later a church was built there, which became famous and drew large crowds of devotees.
How the Land for the Old Church was acquired
Image by Gramam via Wikimedia
Before the old church was built, it was Brahmins who inhabited the area. Over the course of time, however, they left the area, and the area was consumed by wilderness. The belief was that this site was near to where the famous Panayannar Kavu was situated, and hence a haven for black magic. A witch who escaped the clutches of priest-magician Kadamattathu Kathanar had also settled there. Eventually, the land became the property of the Arikupurathu family as per registered documents. Arikupurathu Mathen Karnavar donated two acres of land to the Metropolitan for this purpose.
About Parumala Thirumeni
The Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysius gave the charges of the seminary to Metropolitan Mar Gregorios, who later became famous as Parumala Thirumeni. Students were taught the Bible at the seminary. Parumala Thirumeni sought to find respite to the problems that people had by encouraging them to pray hard. He preached the idea that prayer is the most powerful medium to get in touch with God.
He built a temporary church and consecrated it on 27th January 1895. The expansion of the church happened over the years, until 1960. The foundation stone for the new church was laid on 19th March 1995 by His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Mathews II, Catholicos of the East. The old church, except for The Holy Altar (Sanctum Sanctorum) and the room where the revered mortal remains of Parumala Thirumeni are entombed, were protected and retained.
The new church, which was later built in 1995, can accommodate more than 2000 devotees and reflects the spirit of Parumala Thirumeni. It is magnificent and has a circular design, with an inner diameter of 39 meters. The consecration rites were conducted on 27th October 2000. The ceremony was led by Holiness Baselius Marthoma Mathews II and a host of dignitaries. The new church truly professes the traditional, culture and heritage the great saint sought to spread.
Parumala Perunnal is the most noted event in the church. People from all over Kerala throng the place to celebrate the death anniversary of Bishop Mar Gregorios Metropolitan. He is also the first canonized saint of the Malankara Orthodox Church of Kerala. The canonization was done on 2nd November 1947. On the day of the feast, also held on 2nd November, the streets are decorated beautifully, followed by a magnificent procession that sparkles the eye.
Mar Gregorios Metropolitan performed a three-fold service for the church, acting as Diocesan administration, Ministerial formation of deacons and Missionary witness of the church. Apart from these duties, he had also worked hard to build a church and seminary at Parumala.
The Metropolitan still remains a beacon of hope and love among the residents of Malankara and devotees. He had spread peace to all, irrespective of religion, caste or creed. He set an example of himself by professing undying love for God. He visited Jerusalem in 1895, and almost all holy places referred to in Christianity. He even wrote a book in Malayalam about his visit to Jerusalem. During his bishopric reign, Mar Gregorios Metropolitan established several churches and built several schools. However, it was the Parumala church that was the main spiritual center for Geeverghese.
Parumala parish church is a must-visit place in Thiruvalla, and visiting it would definitely bring peace and happiness to your mind.
The words of Mar Gregorios must reflect within you when you visit the church. “Prayer is the inspiration of childhood, a refuge of youth and peace during childhood,” is certainly motivational.
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