St Mary's Orthodox Church, Kallooppara

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St.Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church, Kallooppara
St Marys Orthodox Church, Kallooppara.jpg
St.Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church, Kallooppara
LocationKallooppara, Kerala, India
DenominationMalankara Orthodox Syrian Church
TraditionSyriac, Malayalam
FoundedAD 1339
DioceseNiranam Diocese

St. Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church (കല്ലൂപ്പാറ പള്ളി), situated at the heart of a small village called Kallooppara (on the banks of the river Manimalayar), Pathanamthitta District, Kerala, India is a prized possession of Malankara Sabha. The church has a legacy of around seven centuries, keeping its tradition and culture intact without compromising on its religious values. The church is an elegant representation of the beautiful shingled roof tops in the early Travancore style. The church is a perfect example of the ancient temple architecture and is a mystery the way it has overcome all the challenges of time. The sanctorium that is abstract in all aspects is a mystifying beauty of the ancient architecture, which has a keen and splendid blend of beauty and science in it.

The church which is the worshiping place of thousands has been a topic of research for many. Currently there are around 800 families worshiping in this church and the members of the church are present all around the globe.

The church has been renovated with a newly built balcony to accommodate more people during holy mass. Also a manimalika (place to suspend the church bell) has been built near the church.

Church History[edit]

In earlier days, Christians of Kallooppara depended on 'Niranam Church' for the holy mass, religious rites and ceremonies. The journey by 'vallom' (small boat) through rivers of Manimalayar and Pampa was tedious, tiresome and risky.

Edappally Kings, renowned for the love and care for their subjects were in rule at that time. The famous and explicably beautiful Elangalloor Maddom, rich in its architectural antiquity, located on northern banks of river Manimala served as an abode for the royal guests. This structure, well-equipped with a private pool called the 'Kullipura Mallika' was beautified with granite rock paved steps leading to river Manimala. ( This can still be seen now in Angadikadavu of Puramattam panchayat) Once, while the ruling king of Edappally was having his rest in the Elangalloor Maddom, he observed few people coming on a vallam singing melodious hymns and chanting prayers. The king immediately stepped down to the river bank for better observation and found it to be a funeral procession, with the corpse on the floating hearse covered with white cloths. He learned that procession started from Manimala and was heading to Niranam Church for the burial, since Niranam Church was the only Christian church in central Travancore those days.Subsequent to the burial of the first dead body on the ground, a handful of Nasranis, mainly "Aaruveedan Families took initiative to build a small building that was useful to gather and pray.

This sight moved the Kings heart and having realized the hardship of his Christian subjects, he virtually pointed a plot on the other side of the river, gave sanction to bury the body and built a church there. Though there are no clear evidence for the origin and age of the church, folklores say that the foundation stone was consecrated on 3rd Karkadakam ( Malyayalam calendar). The stone day of the church is being celebrated on that day. The founding stone of the present church was laid on Malayalam month Karkadakam 3rd of 515 (A.D.1339).The Aaruveedan families (6 families) which were existed in Kalloopara for over 1000+ years, and they had the privilege of laying foundation for this historic church in AD 1339.

Early Challenges[edit]

It was during the time of Adangappurathu Valiya Avirah Tharakan "Around AD 1750",(he was grand son of Avirah Tharakan of Sankara Puri and Maria/Shri Devi -Niece of Edappally King, the couple came and settled down in Puramattom at "vacated Theramel Illam" in AD 1669), that the Kalloopara St. Mary's Orthodox church was ordered to be demolished by a Judge (from Travancore High Court, Quilon), as the church had incurred huge debts. After the court hearings, the Judge ordered for the entire church building to be knocked down and its land to be taken over by the creditor (Pocku Moosa Haji- Quilon). Church members went across the river and informed Valiya Avirah Tharakan what was going on. Valiya Avirah Tharakan immediately paid off all of its debts by a form of Gold "bananas" from the Arrah/Safe, and took control of the church and its property. While holding complete control of Perumpranad district on behalf of the Edappally King, Valiya Avirah Tharakan at his own cost, took the privilege of rebuilding the St. Mary's Orthodox Church, Kalloopara for a better outlook (around AD 1755). Some parts of that construction and art work of the church are still remarkably visible inside the church, particularly the altar and the roof areas. In the recent years, this historical church has grown remarkably as a result of the constant efforts of its enthusiastic members and the outstanding leadership of its Vicars from time to time. Many parts of the church were renovated and more buildings were built for other activities, to keep up with the pace. In AD 1669 when Avirah Tharakan of Shankara Puri and his wife Maria/Shri Devi (niece of Edappally King) arrived, they restored law and order in the Perumpanad district (Kallooppara was the headquarter of Perumpanad district). All religious groups lived in harmony since then and no more blood were shed in the region in the name of religion. Today, this beautiful church remains not only as one of the oldest churches in Travancore, but it also has its own unique pride and credibility in the Malankara Orthodox Church, as a pilgrim center. The Aaruveedan family stood courageously for the existence of this church despite of many obstacles as a result of religious riots and conflicts up until 1750.


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