Maramon Convention

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Maramon Convention
Maramon convetion logo.jpeg
Genre Religious conventions
Dates third week of February
Frequency annually
Location(s) Maramon, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India
Inaugurated 1895
Most recent 2014
Organised by Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association-the missionary wing of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church.
Website
http://mtconvention.com/

The Maramon Convention, the largest Christian convention in the world, is held at Maramon, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India annually during the month of February on the vast sand-bed of the Pampa River next to the Kozhencherry Bridge.[1] It is organised by the Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association, the missionary wing of the Mar Thoma Church.

The origin and growth of this annual get-together for one week at a stretch can be traced to the great revival movement which gathered momentum along with the reformation in the ancient Syrian Church of Malabar under the pioneering leadership of Abraham Malpan in the latter part of 19th century. This brought about the resurgence of the ancient apostolic Church in Kerala founded by St. Thomas the Apostle of Jesus Christ, believed to be in AD 52.

Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association[edit]

By 1877, there were two factions in the Malankara church, known as Bishop faction (Methran Kakshi) and Patriarch faction (Bava Kakshi). By a court verdict on 12 July 1889 Bishop faction lost all the properties. Just before the verdict was given, on 5 September 1888, 12 members of the Bishop faction formed a missionary group called "Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association".[2][3] These 12 members are considered to be the founding fathers of the Maramon convention. The names of these 12 members are:-

Kadavil Malika
  1. Kottarathil Thomas Kasseessa, Chengannur
  2. Edavamvelil Mathai, Eraviperoor.
  3. Kottooreth Yohannan, Chengannur
  4. Chempakasseril Kadavil Abraham, Kallissery
  5. Chakkalayil Cherian Upadesi, Puthencavu
  6. Chempakasseril Kadavil Mathuchen, Kallissery
  7. Azhakinal Thommi, Kallooppara
  8. Nathaniel Upadesi, Chengannur
  9. Kurichiath (Vattadiyil) Ittiyavara, Niranam
  10. Arangat Philipose, Maramon
  11. Ottaplammoottil Kunju Mathew, Kallissery
  12. Kochumannil Skariah, Edayaranmula

They met at the Kadavil Malika belonging to Chempakasseril Kadavil Abraham and Chempakasseril Kadavil Mathuchen (1860 - 1897). This house at Kallissery near Chengannur was built by their grandfather Unnittan Kathanar (1767 - 1852) and his son Abraham Kathanar (1822 - 1884) also known as Kadavil Achen, in the early 19th century. (The Kadavil Malika was reclaimed by the Marthoma church and renovated on 10 September 2005.)

Beginning[edit]

By 1894 a number of small prayer groups were formed by reformers and this paved way for a revival. They had regular meetings in various parishes. Because the number of people attending these meetings was growing, it was decided to have a meeting of all these groups at a central place. During the 19th century, people began to occupy hilly places due to clear felling of forests in and around the catchment area of Pampa river and started intensive cultivation of annual crops like tapioca etc. which resulted large scale soil erosion. Deep river with mud was filled with white sand, which became congenial place to assemble for a gathering of any size. No need for any seating arrangement as people can sit on the neat white sand bed under roof made by knitted coconut leaves. The duty of organising this meeting was given to the Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association and the first convention was held in 1895 at Maramon. Today changing habit of agriculture to rubber plantation and surfaced roads minimised soil erosion and large scale sand mining for construction activities decreased the size of the sand bed to a great extent.

By 1900 reformers adopted the name Malankara Marthoma Suriyani Sabha also known as the Mar Thoma Church.

View of Convention[edit]

Maramon Convention – 2008

Maramon Convention (2008). This view of the convention is from Kozhencherry side. Kozhencherry bridge is on the right. There is no empty space inside the Panthal (tent). So people are standing outside and sitting in the shades to listen to the messages.

Maramon Convention – 2009

Maramon Convention (2009). This view of the convention is from Maramon side. Kozhencherry bridge is on the left.

First Convention[edit]

The first convention was held for 10 days from 8 to 17 March 1895. The venue was the vast sand-bed of the Pampa River next to the Maramon church. The parishes in and around Maramon – Kozhencherry helped in making a very large panthal (tent) to accommodate about 10,000 people. The main speakers were David and Wordsworth. On an average 10,000 to 15,000 people attended these meetings. On the last day almost 25,000 attended. There were no proper roads during those days. So nearby houses accommodated the people from far away places. Some of them came in boats and used them as their shelter.

Convention these days[edit]

A view of the Convention from the Maramon side. People are returning after one session

Maramon Convention is held for eight days during the first week of the Great Lent that usually falls in February. The tent has a seating capacity in excess of 160,000 people. They are seated on the dry sand bed. Old and weak are given chairs to sit on. There is also a smaller tent erected next to the larger one for people with infants and with children below 5. All around the tent there are temporary sheds and tents for various purposes related to the Convention. Stalls for the sale of religious literature, church offices and restaurants are allowed to operate in the vicinity of the tent under the strict control of the Church authorities

Programme[edit]

The Maramon Convention is pre-eminently an assembly of Christians who once a year come here for listening to the Word of God as read and expounded by leaders of Christian thought from all over India as well as abroad. Preaching and Bible study occupy the major part of the convention programme. In the morning there will be separate Bible study classes for Men, women, youth and children conducted by specially invited leaders. In the mornings and afternoons there are public meetings and in the evening, meetings for men. Four of the afternoon public meetings are for ‘’Social evils awareness. Mar Thoma Voluntary Evangelistic Association, Women's sessions (Sevika Sangham) and Missionary Session. Though the choir leads the singing the whole gathering joins in singing. A hymn book with 101 hymns including 16 new ones are printed every year for the convention use. Everyday half an hour is spent for intercessory prayer. Also there are family gatherings, youth meetings and special gatherings after the afternoon session.

Leaders[edit]

In addition to the Metropolitan and Episcopas of the church, distinguished world renowned speakers addressed this convention. The Revd Thomas Walker, England (1900–1912), Sadhu Sunder Singh, Punjab (1918), Dr. G. Sherwood Eddy (1919), Dr. E. Stanley Jones, USA (1920–1968), Dr. Toyohiko Kagawa, Japan (1938), John R. Mott, Nobel Peace Prize winner (1946) and President of World Alliance of YMCAs, Dr. Bob Pierce, founder and president of World Vision (1964 & 66), Astronaut Colonel James Irwin, who spent a few hours on the moon (1985), Dr. John Haggai, founder president of Haggai Institute (1973), Bishop Donald Jacobs, Mennonite church (1974), the Most Revd Dr. Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury (1986), the Most Revd Dr. George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury (1995), Dr. Samuel Kobia, WCC General Secretary (2007), the Revd Dr. A. B. Masalamani, the Revd Dr. Sam Kamalesen, and a host of others.[4]

Maramon Convention through the years[edit]

Maramon Convention 2014[edit]

The 119th Maramon Convention was from 9 to 16 February on the vast sand bed of the Pampa River near Kozhencherry. Main speakers, in addition to the bishops of the Mar Thoma Church were Bishop Dulip D Chikera (Sri Lanka), Rev. Peter Maiden (England) and Rev. Vyani Naibola (South Africa)

Maramon Convention 2012[edit]

The 117th Maramon Convention was held from 12 to 19 February on the vast sand-bed of the Pampa River next to the Kozhencherry Bridge. at Maramon.

The main speakers were Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana (South Africa), Rev Dr. Kang San Tan and Rev. Martin Alphons (USA)

Maramon Convention 2011[edit]

The 116th Maramon Convention was held from 13 to 20 February. Main speakers were the bishops of the Mar Thoma Church; Most Rev. Roger Herft, Anglican Archbishop of Perth; Australia; Prof. Nyameko Barney Pityana, a human rights lawyer, theologian in South Africa and an exponent of Black theology; Dr. R. Rajkumar; Rev. Peter Maiden; Dr. Ulf Gunnar Ekman.

Maramon Convention 2010[edit]

The 115th Maramon Convention was held from 14 to 21 February. On the opening day and on the last three days, the pandal (flat roof thatched by woven coconut leaves) that could accommodate almost 80,000 people overflowed and an equal number found accommodation under the tree shades on both sides of the river.

Two hundred thousand copies of Marmon[disambiguation needed] Convention hymn book (in Malayalam and with transliterated) with 16 new hymns were distributed. A choir of 101 members led the hymns. Every meeting began with a singing session for 30 minutes.

The speakers included the Bishops of the Mar Thoma Church; Bishop Robert M Solomon, (Methodist Church, Singapore); Reverend Canon Tim Dakin, (General Secretary of Church Missionary Society, England), Rev. Martin Alphons (USA) and Rev. Vinod Victor, (Trivandrum, Kerala, India). Bishop Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom, Metropolitan of the Marthandom Diocese of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church addressed the Ecumenical Meeting and Bishop Sebastian Thekethecheril of the Latin Catholic Diocese of Vijayapuram addressed the Social Evils Awareness Meeting. Most Rev. Joris Vercammen, Archbishop of Utrecht, president of the Union of Utrecht (of Old Catholic Church), bishops from the Malabar Independent Syrian Church and bishops of Church of South India attended the meetings.

Special Programmes[edit]

Social actitivities[edit]

The MTEA attaches greater importance to a crusade against social evils, alcoholism and drug-addition. In fact an afternoon session in the convention is exclusively devoted for programmes against such evils to motivate the people to stand solidly against such evils and to take up programmes designed to route out such evils. Besides there are special sessions to focus attention on the ecumenical concerns, dalit activities, women's issues and children's programme.

Missionary responsibilities[edit]

The Church is constantly challenged through this convention to fulfill its missionary responsibilities and to spread its service activities from Tibetan Border in the extreme northern end of Uttar Pradesh, to Kanya Kumari (Cape Comerin) in the South. Several service institutions of the Church owe their origin to this annual get together at Maramon. Destitute homes, Ashrams, mission centres, hospitals, leprosy clinics, schools, and colleges have been started in and outside Kerala, thereby creating a congenial atmosphere fort the moral, social and spiritual upliftment of the masses and for the social and economic emancipation of the poorer sessions of the community. Schemes for homes for the homeless, land for the landless, marriage aid schemes etc. have been started through the inspiration and challenges at the convention, long before such schemes were initiated by the Government. In this way the Church by and large, was inspired to become alive and responsive to the contemporary issues and challenges through the messages of the Maramon Convention. It was in this way that the Mar Thoma Church was made known the world over through the Maramon Convention.

Law and order[edit]

Most interesting aspect of this convention is the discipline shown by the participants all through the convention, which has almost become an inviolable tradition. Police contingent is not required in the convention premises to maintain law and order.

Financial matter[edit]

History of the financial matters is an interesting one. The panthal (tent), and the sheds are the voluntary contributions of the parishes nearby. Earlier, offerings were collected in every meeting. Now it is collected only in four of the 21 general meetings. The collection is distributed to various organisations of the church and also for the Bible society and CSSM.[5]

Conclusion[edit]

All those who come to the convention area will experience the spiritual liveliness that inculcates a self-discipline. The unbroken prayer is the force behind the spiritual inspiration. The Maramon Convention displays co-operation and union between different sections of Church in Kerala. It fosters an ecumenical outlook. It is also a source of spiritual inspiration and enlightenment for thousands.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kerala set for Asia's biggest Christian convention – Yahoo! India News
  2. ^ Rev.George Alexander (Ed). "Maramon Convention Sathapdhi Valum-’95." Page 166.
  3. ^ Mar Thoma Sabha Directory. (1999). Page 149.
  4. ^ Rev.George Alexander (Ed). "Maramon Convention Sathapdhi Valum-’95." Page 83-95.
  5. ^ Mar Thoma Sabha Directory. (1999). Page 169.

Coordinates: 9°20′02″N 76°42′04″E / 9.33389°N 76.70111°E / 9.33389; 76.70111

Further reading[edit]

    1. Rev.George Alexander (Ed).(1995). Maramon Convention Sathapdhi Valum-’95.
    2. Mathew, N.M. Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitram, (History of the Marthoma Church), Volume II (2007). Volume III (2008) Pub. E.J.Institute, Tiruvalla.
    3. Mar Thoma Sabha Directory. (1999) Pub. The Publication Board of The Mar Thoma Church, Tiruvalla, Kerala, India.

External links[edit]