From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Nedumpally or Nedumpalli is a family from Kerala. It has now Hindu and Christian branches. The Christian families of Nedumpally belong to Syrian Catholic, Malankara Orthodox and Jacobite denominations.[1][2] The Nedumpally Christians claim to be among the original Christians who received baptism from Thomas the Apostle.[3][4][5][6][7]


Palayur St.Thomas Monument

It is believed that Nedumpally family was evangelized by Thomas the Apostle, said to have come to India sometime in the 1st century.[8] There is no direct contemporary evidence for Thomas being in the subcontinent, though it definitely would have been possible for a Roman Jew of the time to make such a trip. The earliest known source connecting the apostle to India is the Acts of Thomas, written in Edessa likely in the 2nd century.[8][9] The text describes Thomas' adventures in bringing Christianity to India, a tradition later expanded upon in early Indian sources such as the "Thomma Parvam" ("Song of Thomas").[10][11]


Palayoor was one of the places near the port of Muziris, where St. Thomas established a church. The place is referred as Palur in some old documents. At that time, according to tradition, Palayoor had a Brahmin village of 64 families. It is believed that in one of the temple ponds in Palayoor, St. Thomas performed a miracle. Some priestly Brahmins were performing a Vedic ritual called Tharpanam in which they devote Lord Sun by the symbolic submission of water in their palms along with Vedic recitation. St. Thomas was attracted to the ritual and queried the logic of their submission since the water thrown above was not accepted and returned to earth. Thus St. Thomas got an opening to present his subject before that Brahmin community. St. Thomas pulled out his hand and said in the name of Jesus, raised the water and it stood still in the air and glittered. By this "experience" many Brahmins were astounded and accepted Christianity while the other Brahmins cursed the place and left the place with their families saying that they would bathe their next bath at Vembanattu.[12] Nedumpally, Madeipur, Koykkam, Payyappilly, Muttodal, Pakalomattam, Panakkamattam, Sankarapuri, Kalli, Kallikavu, etc. were among the families who were baptised in Palayoor and Kottakkavu.[13][14][15][16]

Supportive evidences[edit]

Even today the place is known as Chavakadu which means "cursed forest" in the local language. The unhappy Brahmins ran away to Vembanattu and settled down there. This place is still called Pudumanassery or the Place of the New Mana (Illam). It is stated that a Hindu temple that was abandoned by the Brahmins was converted into the present church. Temple remnants in the form of broken idols, sculptures and relics of the old temple can also be seen near the precincts of the church, in addition to two large tanks near the west and east gates of the church.[17][18]

It is also stated that the conversion of Brahmins has resulted in such an aversion among the Nambudri Brahmins that they do not even accept cold water or tender coconut water anywhere in the vicinity of the church. In Vembanattu there is a Brahmin illam of Kalatt, which according to tradition is one of the families that ran away from Palayoor.[19] Furthermore, a document called "Grandavariola" kept by a local Brahmin family (who had moved out from Palayur during the preaching) testifies to the date of the gospel work of St. Thomas. The document states:

Kali year 3153 [52 AD] the foreigner Thomas Sanyasi came to our village (gramam) preached there and thereby causing ...


The song "Margam Kali" - one of the ancient round group dances of Kerala practised by Saint Thomas Christians, a brief description of this tradition is portrayed. A relevant part of the song is translated below:

He then heard about Kerala and went there, arriving at Malankara, preaching to the Brahmans of Cranganore and ordaining two of them priests. Then he went south, erecting crosses at Quilon, Niranam, Kokkamangalam, Kottukkayal, Cayal and Palayoor. The King sent for Thomas and inquired him of the completion of Castle's work. The King put him in prison when told he must wait till after his death to see the new palace, and was so mortified by the deception that he wanted to abdicate. However, his brother died at that time and saw the palace in heaven. He was resuscitated and told the King of its glory. The king, his brother, Habban and others were baptized, and the faith spread apace arousing the Brahmans’ jealousy ...


Historicity of the Brahmanic origin[edit]

Some historians argue that the Brahmin's arrival in Kerala happened much later. Cyriac Pullapilly, briefing the opinion of these historians, states that although Brahmin influences had existed in the area since at least the 1st-century AD, a considerably large influx of these people started from around the 8th-century only.[23] Kerala historian, A. Sreedhara Menon, is against this argument. According to him, Aryan religions like Jainism and Buddhism had already made inroads to Kerala in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC and the consensus among scholars is that the Aryan Brahmin immigration to South India had started as early as 1000 BC.[24]

Some of the poets of Sangam period were Brahmins, and there are references to the poojas and yajnas conducted by Brahmin priests in the court of Chera kings.[24] According to P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar, the sages Apastamba and Baudhayana, whose sūtras or legislations are followed even today by Tamil Brahmins, lived in the Telugu-speaking territories to the immediate north of the Tamil country even before the Sangam period.[25] The 2nd-century AD literary work Paṭṭiṉappālai written by the Brahmin poet, Uruttirangannanar, records the presence of Brahmins and Vedic rites in Karikala Chola's kingdom. The Akanaṉūṟu refers to a vela-parppan or a Brahmin who does not perform Vedic sacrifices. Similarly, other literary works of the Sangam period like the Silappatikaram, Manimekalai and Kuṟuntokai also allude to the presence of Brahmins in the Tamil country. The influence of Brahmins and Indo-Aryan culture, however, began to grow rapidly only during the last centuries of the Sangam period.

Medieval history[edit]

Thus Christianity gained a foothold in Kerala well over 300 years before it succeeded in obtaining official recognition in Europe, or in becoming the established religion of Rome. This community, though a minor one, was aligned in the social crystalline structure with a respectable orientation. The respect and toleration shown to this faith, found expression in the fraternal treatment extended to its adherents, who were accorded and retained for themselves an honoured place, in the social and economic life of Kerala. They succeeded in doing this because they were Christian following a foreign faith and proud of the foreign origin of their church. But their primary concern was to live in harmony and requite the hospitality and toleration shown to them by the Hindu kings and princes.[26]

Some of the Palayoor Christian families relocated as early as the 2nd century AD. Pakalomattom and Sankarapury include in this list. Nedumpally stayed in Palayoor until Tippu Sultan (1749–99) attacked Kerala. One branch of Nedumpally reached ThekkumKoor and got shelter there. Thekkumkoor is now a part of Kottayam District.


  1. ^ Baum, Wilhelm; Winkler, Dietmar W. (2003). Church of the East a Concise History. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0203423097.
  2. ^ Frykenberg, Robert Eric (2008). Christianity in India from beginnings to the present. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780191544194.
  3. ^ James Arampulickal (1994). The Pastoral Care of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Migrants. Oriental Institute of Religious Studies, India Publications. p. 40.
  4. ^ Orientalia christiana periodica: Commentaril de re orientali ...: Volumes 17-18. Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum. 1951. p. 233.
  5. ^ Adrian Hastings (2000-08-15). A World History of Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-8028-4875-8.
  6. ^ Benedict Vadakkekara (2007). Origin of Christianity in India: a Historiographical Critique. Media House Delhi. p. 61. ISBN 978-81-7495-258-5.
  7. ^ Thomaskutty, Johnson (2018). Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9780567672858.
  8. ^ a b Frykenberg, Eric (2008). Christianity in India: from Beginnings to the Present, p. 93. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-826377-5.
  9. ^ Bornkamm, G. "The Acts of Thomas" in E. Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, Vol. 2. London: Lutterworth, 1965.
  10. ^ Frykenberg, Eric (2008). Christianity in India: from Beginnings to the Present, p. 92. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-826377-5.
  11. ^ "The Song of Thomas Ramban" in Menachery G (ed); (1998) "The Indian Church History Classics", Vol. I, The Nazranies, Ollur, 1998. ISBN 81-87133-05-8
  12. ^ George Menachery and Edward René Hambye - The St. Thomas Christian encyclopaedia of India, Volume 2
  13. ^ Anthony Korah Thomas (1993). The Christians of Kerala: a brief profile of all major churches. A.K. Thomas.
  14. ^ Orientalia christiana periodica: Commentaril de re orientali aetatis christianae sacra et profana, Volumes 17-18
  15. ^ Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum (1951). Orientalia christiana periodica: Commentaril de re orientali aetatis christianae sacra et profana. Pont. institutum orientalium studiorum.
  16. ^ Balakrishna N. Nair: The dynamic Brahmin: a study of the Brahmin's personality in Indian culture with special reference to South India ; Popular Book Depot, 1959 - Page 228
  17. ^ Bezbaruah-Gopal-Girota 2003, pp. 60-62.
  18. ^ Church 1969, p. 93
  19. ^
  20. ^ Kurikilamkatt 2005, pp. 173, 183
  21. ^ Palayur Church, Chavakkad
  22. ^ NSC NETWORK – Margam Kali – History, Theme, Early References and Modern Developments
  23. ^ Pullapilly, Cyriac K. (1976). "The Izhavas of Kerala and their Historic Struggle for Acceptance in the Hindu Society". In Smith, Bardwell L. Religion and Social Conflict in South Asia. International studies in sociology and social anthropology. 22. Netherlands: E. J. Brill. pp. 26–30. ISBN 978-90-04-04510-1. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  24. ^ a b A. Sreedhara Menon - Political history of modern Kerala, D C Books, 1987, pp. 36 -39, ISBN 81-264-2156-8 [1]
  25. ^ P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar, pp 116
  26. ^ NSC NETWORK – The Heathen and the Syrian – Syrian Christian Ritual and Tradition pre 1599 A.D


  • Menachery G (1973) The St. Thomas Christian Encyclopedia of India, Ed. George Menachery, B.N.K. Press, vol. 2, ISBN 978-81-87132-06-6, Lib. Cong. Cat. Card. No. 73-905568; B.N.K. Press
  • Mundalan, A. Mathias. (1984) History of Christianity in India, vol. 1, Bangalore, India: Church History Association of India.
  • Leslie Brown, (1956) The Indian Christians of St. Thomas. An Account of the Ancient Syrian Church of Malabar, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1956, 1982 (repr.)
  • Podipara, Placid J. (1970) The Thomas Christians. London: Darton, Longman and Tidd, 1970.
  • South Asia Research Assistance Services (Ollur, India) (1998). The Nazranies. ISBN 978-81-87133-05-6.
  • Menachery G (ed) (1982) The St. Thomas Christian Encyclopedia of India, B.N.K. Press, vol. 1;
  • Joseph Thekkedath (1982) History of Christianity in India, Volume 1, Theological Publications in India, pp. 33
  • Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Volume 1: Edgar Thurston, K. Rangachari
  • James Hough (1893) The History of Christianity in India.
  • K.V. Krishna Iyer (1971) "Kerala’s Relations with the Outside World", pp. 70, 71 in The Cochin Synagogue Quatercentenary Celebrations Commemoration Volume, Kerala History Association, Cochin.
  • Kerala Charithram: A.Sridhara Menon
  • The Syrian Church in Malabar: J. C. Panjikkaran,1914, alias SARAS Edition, ICHC I, The Nazranies, pp. 277, 278
  • The St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India, ISBN 978-81-87132-01-1, Vol. I
  • K.L. Bernard, A Brief Sketch of the History of the St. Thomas Christians
  • K.L. Bernard, Kerala History, pp. 78–79
  • Indian antiquary, Volume 60 - Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
  • Kerala State Gazetteer, Volume 2, 1986

External links[edit]