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Parumala Church, Kerala, India

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Parumala Church (St. Peter's and St. Paul's Orthodox Church)

A journey through the saints hallow

Parumala, a beautiful, lush green hilly region of Pathanamthitta district of Kerala is a place that beckons thousands of people every day as visitors. What is so special about Parumala? It is none other than the Parumala church devoted to the saint Geevarghese Mar Gregorios. For the people of Parumala, he is Parumala thirumeni.A journey into this holy land will describe you the divinity, solidarity, spirituality and the holiness of  this region united under the tagline of Parumala Church. Let’s have a sacred journey.

Parumala, a small but elongated land, which shares shore of river Pampa is a place with all its uniqueness. The beauty of nature in tandem with the boisterous waves of  river Pampa  can be explored here. But when it comes to Parumala as a holy land, rather than its splendors, all eyes goes after the church in the island of river Pamba. It’s a place where people gather beyond the religious borders. The historic evidence from this region states that in the ancient days, many Brahmin families were living on this island which has an area of about 4 square miles.and because of many social causes, in the course of time these families left the place.When we approach, Parumala with a historians or archeologists passion of exploring the past, we can see the leftovers of a primeval community here consisting, the broken down basements of buildings, disused ponds etc. When the Brahmins left this land, the place has become more or less wild and desolate, and the place consisted the famous ‘Panayannar Kavu’, a temple and about the southern part of this, lies the Parumala Church and thus it opens the way of religious harmony here

Raja_Ravi_Varma,_Gheevarghese_Mar_Gregorios_of_Parumala

The Parumala church, most sacred one

The construction of Parumala church has a long history. Before the Church established, Malankara Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysius wanted to establish a seminary in this area, for which he got a 2 acres of a plot as a donation from  Arikupurathu Mathen Karnavar. An ordinary building called ‘Azhippura’ was soon built on this plot of land for conducting classes for the disciples. Even after centuries, this small building is a major attraction here.Then, a Temporary church in Parumala was rebuilt by Mar Gregorios and consecrated in 1895.As time passed, the church building has been modified many times.All faces of expansion can be seen here one by one.

Azhippura, hub of divinity

Azhippura is a small building, which is located at the centre of the 2 acres of land, having a unique attraction from four corners. It is the oldest building here. This is the place where the Christians of this region congregated to share the thoughts on Jesus.The roof of this building is paved with terracotta tiles and the white walls here is attractive enough to create an internal as well as external sanctity in followers. When the number of disciples in the seminary increased, all these people could not be accommodated in the meager space of the Azhippura. So His Grace Mar Gregorios mostly had his rest and sleep on a verandah to the south of this building. Thus, the church has decided to be expanded.

The view of the church main building is awesomely great. The wide hall building in the extensive land is really a place there you can find you in you through meditation, worship and deliberation. The long hallway here can accommodate over a 2000 worshippers at the same time, which was designed in antique style by renowned architect Charles Correa.

The Church has gone through many faces of expansion. The major one was in 1930, the church at that time could contain only 300 worshippers at that time,  Hence the church was extended towards the west with a porch (Natakasala) and with a balcony hall above. Then the church was large enough to accommodate  800 devotees.Then again in 1960 a pillared-hall with a dome overhead was built on the northern side of the tomb so that people could conveniently pray and make their offerings. A tower was also built on the north-west side. When we reach parumal we can see all these places are kept clean and tidy with a special divinity. The new church is designed in a circular plan with an inner diameter of 39 meters.This area is visually impressive to draw anyone’s attraction. The huge circular area here is again divided into three segments by two chords of 16 meters length.

Another main magnetism of Parumala church is the Holy Altar or Sanctum Sanctorum. The golden glowed altar has special sanctity and according to the visitors here, it provides an indescribable peace to the disturbed minds. It is believed that the prayers before saint Gheevarhese could help one to overcome the struggles of life.Followers believe that the divine atmosphere of this holy land is best to cure diseases, mind disorders etc…This is one of the main reason, which create Parumala a center of attention for religious devotees. This area is also a well established religious tourism centre in the district. In 1985, Parumala has uplifted as the holy land pilgrimage by Mar Gregorios.

This church is dedicated in the names of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul. The saintly Metropolitan is buried in the northern corner of the church were the octagonal altar and the rectangular ‘Haikla’ of the church join together.

The Holy Tomb of Parumala Thirumeni

Another thing that owes our attraction here, is the tomb of Parumala Thirumani, in another way this church is better known for the tomb church of Saint Geevarghese Mar Gregorios, who died on November 02, 1902 at the age of 54.He is believed as the priest with a pivotal holiness.

His funeral was conducted here on November 03, 1902 in the presence of a huge crowd consisting thousands of worshippers and hundreds of priests from different parts of Kerala. When we are at Parumala, we can hear all these stories by the guides there. Also we can see the inscriptions before all holy places. Even since his demise this day is celebrated in the church as a divine day, every year on November 02nd, thousands of pilgrims accumulates before the church and tomb with great respect and belief on Parumala thirumeni. Many testimonies to the saintly intercession of Mar Gregorios made Parumala Church and the tomb a centre of  global pilgrimage. In 1947 Mar Gregorios of blessed memory was declared a saint by the then Catholicos of the church, His Holiness Baselios Geevarghese II.

The western face of the tomb was closed in 1910. The altar is the main attraction again.There are mainly 3 Altars including the central one. The altar on the northern side is dedicated in the name of St. Mary and the one on the southern side in the name of St. Thomas. Subsequently all the three altars were embellished with the beautiful ‘Kdouskudisin’ golden gilt work.

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