Polachirackal Tharakan family

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The Polachirackal Tharakan family of Mavelikkara financed and re-constructed the famed Sabrimala Temple which is the abode of the Hindu god Ayyappan. Sabrimala is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world with an estimated 50 million devotees visiting ever year.[1][2]
The Polachirackal Tharakan family of Mavelikkara constructed the famed Thevally Palace (Malayalam: തേവള്ളി കൊട്ടാരം) in Kollam which is currently a heritage landmark site of historic importance. Thevally Palace or Thevalli Palace is located on the banks of Ashtamudi lake, in Thevally, Kollam. Thevally Palace was built in between 1811 and 1819 by the Polachirackal Tharakan family when Maharani Regent Gowri Parvati Bayi of Travancore was ruling the princely state, to conduct meetings for the Maharaja of Travancore with the British Resident and other the British officials. The architecture is a mixture of British, Dutch and Portuguese.
The Polachirackal Tharakan family of Mavelikkara had taken the construction contract for the famed Krishnapuram Palace (Malayalam: തേവള്ളി കൊട്ടാരം) under the supervision of Kamyyan Dalava, which was later enlarged by Ayyappan Mathsnada Pillai. The palace is maintained by the Archaeological Department of Kerala as a heritage landmark site of historic importance. The Palace is located Kayamkulam near Alappuzha.
The Polachirackal Tharakan family of Mavelikkara had a number of fine architectural houses built for themselves including the etukettu and nalukettu-styled tharavadus wherein the Polachirackal Tharakan family is only one of the handful Christian families to have owned and lived in etukettus. This mansion built was family in Mavelikkara during the 20th century and was recorded in the Malayalam broadsheet newspapers including Malayalam Manorama as the largest British-styled bungalow built in the "Land of King Maveli" within the princely Kingdom of Travancore.
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Polachirackal Tharakan family of Mavelikkara (Malayalam: പോളച്ചിറക്കല്‍ തരകന്‍ Pōḷacciṛakkal‍ Tharakkan) or the House of Polachirackal with male family members titled as Mavelikkara Tharakan (Malayalam: മാവേലിക്കര തരകന്‍ Māvēlikkara Tharakan‍) of the Kingdom of Travancore.[3]. The family is of an ancient Indian Saint Thomas Christian lineage of Travancore nobility and affluence acknowledged of having royal ancestry. The family was referred to as "Tiruvithaamkoorilee Kireedom Veykkaatha Rajaakkanmaar" in Malayalam (തിരുവിതാംകൂറിലെ കിരീടം വയ്ക്കാത്ത രാജാക്കന്മാർ ) which meant "The Uncrowned Kings of Travancore" for having provided political leadership to the erst-while Kingdom of Mavelikkara in the state of Kerala, India. The family has had deeply entrenched ties with the erst-while Kingdom of Travancore and in having contributed to the establishment of the kingdom. The family were financiers to the Travancore royal family[4] and supported the Apostolic Saint Thomas Christian churches, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church which traces its origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.[5] The heritage of the family as well as its fame comes from a number of notable involvement of the family members which include, being financiers to the sovereign Maharaja of Travancore Marthanda Varma[6], financing and re-constructing the famed Sabrimala Temple[7], under-taking the contractual responsibilities and having constructed four palaces in Travancore as well as financing the annexation of various chiefdoms and the Travancore-Dutch War which also included the decisive Battle of Colachel.[8][9]

The House's lineage is traditionally believed to have been founded in the 1st century from the evangelical activity undertaken by Thomas the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ.[10] Records indicate several notable descendants having held political, commercial and merchant trading as well as ecclesiastical influence and positions starting from the 16th century in continuation till the present times. Their tharavad was bestowed with the hereditary noble title 'Tharakan of Mavelikkara' (Malayalam: മാവേലിക്കര തരകന്‍ Māvēlikkara Tharakan‍)[11] by the then sovereign Maharaja of Travancore Marthanda Varma.[12]

The House's then excessive fortunes were made from having a local oligopoly in the merchant trading of pepper which was part of the international spice trade route developed and controlled by the Portuguese Casa da Índia and later by the Dutch East India Company in the age of discovery starting with Vasco da Gama reaching Calicut by the sea route in 1498. Using their surplus as risk capital, the House established itself as financiers to the maharajas[5] of the Kingdom of Travancore,[13] the second wealthiest Indian princely state after the Nizam of Hyderabad. As a reference point to compare the wealth in Travancore, the Nizam of Hyderabad was ranked as the richest man in the world in 1937 by Time magazine[14] Travancore was an erst-while 19-gun (outside)/21-gun (within) salute princely Indian state which is part of Kerala, India.[11] The members of the House were notable for holding political leadership of the principality of Mavelikkara.[15]

Origins of the House and its role in the erstwhile Kingdom of Travancore[edit]

The House's origin lies in the traditionally held belief according to which princes, of a royal lineage from the Chera dynasty were baptised by Saint Thomas the Apostle in 53 AD and this tradition through the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church has been acknowledged by the Papacy of the Holy See and the city of Vatican in Rome.[10] This line was considered to be descendants of the Chola Empire as well, due to consistent intermarriages between the Chera and Chola. The Polachirackal House was granted the highest-ranking hereditary title of nobility for a Christian family in the Kingdom of Travancore titled as Tharakan[16] and were the highest ranking Christian peer to the Maharaja of Travancore.[16] The House were financiers to the Kingdom of Travancore from the 18th to 20th centuries.[2] having financed and re-constructed the famed Sabrimala Temple,[5][17] the abode of the Hindu Lord Ayyappan, which is considered as the largest annual pilgrimage in the world with an estimated 50 million devotees visiting ever year.[18][19] The House also financed several battles fought by Venad[5] including the Travancore-Dutch War, the Battle of Colachel[8] and were minor signatories to the Treaty of Mavelikkara.[20]

Political roles and positions[edit]

Sons from the House have had a continuous tradition of being appointed for liaising as political agents for trade from the 1600s first by the Rajas of Kayamakulam, Venad, Thekkemkoor and as being state financiers later after the unification and enlargement of Venad, by the Maharaja of Travancore. In the last part of the 20th century, when the Sree Moolam Praja Sabha otherwise known as the Sree Moolam Popular Assembly was created, one son, Jacob Kurien, through his maternal lineage, was appointed as the first elected political leadership of Mavelikkara,[21] in the Sree Moolam Popular Assembly in the Kingdom of Travancore, equivalent to that of a Member of Parliament. After the Independence of India, Polachirackal Cherian Koshy[22] and Polachirackal Cherian Ninan[23] were the first set of elected Municipal Chairmen of Mavelikkara, equivalent to that of a Mayor. Additionally, Polachirackal Cherian Mathen served as the longest serving Councilor of Mavelikkara.[24] Descendants of the Polachirackal tharavad who held political positions include Cherian Polachirackal, currently the General-Secretary of Kerala Congress (M), a leading recognised regional party in Kerala and was the former Municipal Chairman of Tiruvalla, equivalent of a mayor.[25] Another maternal grandson of the Polachirackal family P.C. Alexander who served as a Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament of India was the former Principal Secretary to Indian Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi[26] as well as being the former Indian High Commissioner to the Court of St James's, United Kingdom and Governor of the Indian states of Maharastra, Tamil Nadu and Goa.[27]

Contributions to the Saint Thomas Christian Mar Thoma Syrian Church and Syro-Malankara Catholic Church[edit]

Descendants of the House who held ecclesiastical positions have contributed to the foundation and development of two Churches within the Saint Thomas Christian tradition from the 1st century, that of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.[28] The Mar Thoma Syrian Church diocese in Mavelikkara was established by its Vicar Polachirackal K. Kassesa, a priest from the 19th and 20th centuries. Another son, Polachirackal C. Koshy served as the financier and longest serving lay trustee of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church as a whole. In the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, members include son Zachariah Mar Athanasios born under the name Cherian Polachirackal who became the third Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Bishop of Tiruvalla,[29] a maternal grandson of the Polachirackal family Aboon Geevarghese Mar Ivanios born under the name of Geevarghese Panickeruveetil of Mavelikkara who was the founding architect of the Church under Pope Pius XI and became the first Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church[30] as well as in being the first Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum having been declared as Servant of God in 2007 and another maternal grandson Joshua Mar Ignathios was the first Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Bishop of Mavelikkara.[31]

Literary and cultural contributions[edit]

Mavelikkara Polachirackal Kocheeppan Tharakan is a prominent literary critic, dramatist and writer from the House who is acclaimed as one of Kerala's greatest writers by the Kerala Sahitya Akademi[32] , Kerala's academy for Malayalam literature which is an autonomous body established to promote Malayalam language and literature. His work included "Kochuthomman" (1892)[33] and "Mariamma Natakam" [34] which are considered as classics and were among the earliest novels on Syrian Christian life in the State of Travancore. Another important novel that written by Kocheeppan Tharakan covering the social order in the then society was "Balikasadanam".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Chitrayogam" by Leena Chandran in Malayalam, Malayalam Manorama, 5th May, 2013".
  2. ^ a b "Malayalam Manorama 60th Year Jubilee Handbook, Malayalam Manorama Publications, 1950". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ Chandra Mallampalli, Christians and Public Life in Colonial South India, 1863–1937: Contending with Marginality, RoutledgeCurzon, 2004, p. 79
  4. ^ "'Kerala Through The Looking Glass' - The New Indian Express".
  5. ^ a b c d Article on the Polachirackal Family of Mavelikkara and their contributions, in Malayalam, published in Malayalam by the Malayalam Manorama Broadsheet Newspaper, 1914
  6. ^ "Kerala Through the Looking Glass - The New Indian Express".
  7. ^ "Kerala Through the Looking Glass - The New Indian Express".
  8. ^ a b "Madras Regiment". Archived from the original on 12 March 2016.
  9. ^ Warrants issued by H.R.H. Mar Thanda Varma in honour of the House of Polachirackal after the Treaty of Mavelikkara, memorial re-issued copy with the Municipality of Mavelikkara
  10. ^ a b "Address of the Holy Father John Paul II to the Pilgrims of the Syro-Malankara Church".
  11. ^ a b Warrant issued by H.R.H. Mar Thanda Varma, memorial copy re-issued is recorded with the Municipality of Mavelikkara
  12. ^ Chandra Mallampalli, Christians and Public Life in Colonial South India, 1863–1937: Contending with Marginality, RoutledgeCurzon, 2004, p. 80
  13. ^ ""Marthanda Varma could have been Kerala's Henry Ford but for family compulsions " by Economic Times Bureau, 4th January, 2014".
  14. ^ "Hyderabad: Silver Jubilee Durbar".
  15. ^ "Official records on Polachirackal family's are held at the Municipality of Mavelikkara".
  16. ^ a b "Census of India, 1961, Volume 7" P. 21
  17. ^ "Vavar".
  18. ^ "Why millions throng Sabarimala shrine". daily.bhaskar.com. Retrieved January 2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  19. ^ "Indo-Americans shocked at Sabarimala tragedy". www.sify.com. Retrieved 2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  20. ^ Warrants issued by H.R.H. Mar Thanda Varma in honour of the House of Polachirackal after the Treaty of Mavelikkara, memorial re-issued copy with the Municipality of Mavelikkara
  21. ^ "Official records on P. Jacob Kurien, Member, Sree Moolam Popular Assembly is recorded and available at the Niyamasabha, Kerala Legislative Assembly".
  22. ^ "Official records on Polachirackal Cherian Koshy's term is held at the Municipality of Mavelikkara".
  23. ^ "Official records on Polachirackal Cherian Ninan is held at the Municipality of Mavelikkara".
  24. ^ "Official records available at the Municipality of Mavelikkara".
  25. ^ "The Hindu Newspaper".
  26. ^ "Raj Bhavan Maharastra State".
  27. ^ "Members Page:Dr. P. C. Alexander". Rajya Sabha website. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
  28. ^ "Oriens Christianus". O.Harrassowitz, 1977.
  29. ^ "Bathery Diocese". Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC).
  30. ^ G.K. Chesterton, From the Universe, quoted in Fr. Thomas Inchyakkalody, Archbishop Mar Ivanios, Vol. 2, Kottayam, 2006, p. 125.
  31. ^ "KCBC News Page". Kcbcsite.com. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  32. ^ "Polachirackal Kocheppan Tharakan's page by Kerala Sahitya Akademi".
  33. ^ "Malayalam Literature" (PDF). C.Kunhan Raja. Retrieved 2014-10-31.
  34. ^ "Mariamma Natakam". indulekha.com. Retrieved 2014-10-31.