The Pakalomattam, Pakalomattum or Pakalomattom family or simply Palamattam family is an ancient Suriyani (Syrian) Christian family in Kerala, India. Most Christians in Kerala are known as Syrian Christians in view of the Syriac (classical form of Aramaic) liturgy used in church services since the early days of Christianity in India. They are also known as Nasrani (followers of Jesus the Nazarene).
According to tradition, St. Thomas, the apostle visited Kerala in AD 52, as part of his missionary work in Persia, India and Afghanistan. There is no direct contemporary evidence for Thomas the Apostle 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. The text describes Thomas' adventures in bringing Christianity to India, a tradition later expanded upon by early Indian sources such as the Thomma Parvam (Song of Thomas). According to a Malabar tradition, he anointed and appointed elders to conduct worship from the Pakalomattom family.
Paloor 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, Paloor had a Brahmin village of families with strength of 64 adults. It is believed that in one of the temple ponds in Paloor, St. Thomas performed a miracle. Some Nambudiri Brahmins were performing Vedic ritual called Tharpanam which means "That offering which satisfies" 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 about the act and challenged the logic of their submission since the water thrown above was not accepted and returned to earth. St. Thomas used this opportunity to present his subject before the present Brahmin community. St. Thomas threw water in the name of Jesus and it stood still in the air and glittered like diamond. By this magical experience, many Brahmins accepted Christianity while the other Brahmins cursed the place and left the place with their families saying that they would do their rituals from then on at Vembanattu.
Historical and traditional facts
Even today the place is known as Sapa-kadu or Chavakadu which means "cursed forest". The place from where the unhappy Brahmins relocated from Palur to Vembanattu out of fear of black magic. 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.
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 which left from Paloor out of fear. This place is still called Pudumanassery or the "Place of the new Mana" (Illam). 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 ..."
In many songs of "Margam Kali" - An art form of Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala, It is an ancient coordinated round group dance presented by women for entertainment and passing down information, a brief description of St. Thomas tradition is portrayed in it with exaggerations to make the song more interesting. A relevant part of such a song is translated below:
"He then heard about Kerala and went there, arriving at Malankara, preaching to the Brahmans of Cranganore and anointed two of them. Then he went south, erecting crosses at Quilon, Niranam, Kokkamangalam, Kottukkayal, Cayal and Paloor. A Northern 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. However, his brother died at that night and saw the palace in heaven. He came back to life and told the King of its glory. The king, his brother and others were baptized, and the faith spread apace arousing the Brahmans"...
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