Pallithanam Luca Matthai
His father Sree Mathai Luca Pallithanam was the pioneers of kayal cultivation (reclamation of cultivable land from the Vembanad Lake) in Kuttandu. Since he lost both his father and uncle when he was only eighteen years, being the eldest son in the family he took over the family estate.
The life of Pallithanam Luka Mathai can be considered the history of Kayal Cultivation in Kuttanad. During the fifty years of his farming career, he spearheaded the reclamation activities of more than one-third of the total 'Kayal Nilam's (Kayal Nilam refers to the cultivable land reclaimed from the Vemaband Lake). His first venture of kayal cultivation was the reclamation of Cherukara Kayal. Cherukara Kayal is considered the first kayal nilam that was reclaimed from the deeper sections of the Vembanad Lake.
During the period between 1898 to 1904, he reclaimed the Pallithanam Moovayiram Kayal, and Madathil Kayal. But reclamation activities came to a halt because of the ban on reclamation imposed by the Travencore Raja in 1904. After the removal of the ban, in 1914 Luka Mathai, along with some other prominent families in Kuttanadu, reclaimed E-Block Kayal measuring a total area 2,400 acres. This is the biggest kayal nilam in Kuttanadu. H Block Kayal(1917) and R Block Kayal(1921)were his other major reclamations.
Pallithanam Luka Mathai, who had served as member of Moolam Thirunal of Travancore's Praja Sabha (Popular Assembly), was considered the pioneer of cooperative agricultural movement in Kuttanadu. His life marked the beginning of the epoch of first generation Kayal Raja's of Kuttanad.(Kayal Raja is the term generally used to refer to the prominent kayal cultivators in the Kuttanadu region). From the beginning of his farming career at his teens (he was only eighteen years old when he reclaimed the cherukara kayal), he brought together like-minded people and successfully led the reclamation activity from 1898 to 1922.
In 1931, in order to strengthen the farming community in Kuttanadu, he founded Kuttandu Karshaka Sangham. He spearheaded the debt relief struggle that resulted in the enactment of 'Agricultural Debt Relief Act'.
His love for the common people and urge for their uplifting is evident from the contributions he made to his native village of Kainady. Our Lady of Dolours Church in Kainady stand on the land donated by him. Using his influence as the member of Moolam Thirunal of Travancore's Praja Sabha (Popular Assembly), he established a primary school in Kainady in 1921 and in the initial years he acted as the manager of it. This school eventually named as A J John Memorial high school. Pallithanathu Mathaichan was one of the founder leaders of All Kerala Catholic Congress.
Though he belonged to an aristocratic and orthodox Syrian Christian family, he actively supported his contemporary and great social reformer Ayyankali in his efforts in eradicating the social inequalities that were prevalent in the Kerala society. He invited Ayyankali to the ancestral home of Pallithanam. In a grant event, accompanied by many boats, Ayyankali, along with his followers, reached the Pallithanam Tharavad, and as a token of protest against casteism made 'Panthi Bhojanam' . This is a perfect testimony of Lukka Mathai's broadmindedness, generosity and love for the downtrodden.
On Christmas Day 1962, the exemplary life of that great visionary came to an end.
- G S Unnikrishanan Nair (Sep 2013). "Kuttanad; Our Heritage Our wealth". KERALA CALLING. pp. 16–20. Retrieved 26 Sep 2013.
- GOVERNMENT OF KERALA (NA). "KLA PROCEEDINGS". GOVERNMENT OF KERALA. pp. NA. Retrieved 26 Sep 2013. Check date values in:
- Prof. John Kurakar (Sep 2012). "AYYANKALI BIRTH ANNIVERSARY". Blog. p. 1. Retrieved 2 Oct 2013.