Believers oppose move to demolish Mar Thoma Church in Kerala

July 24, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Kerala, July 24, 2017: An apse comprising a rare laterite dome. A history of 120 years. The wood that went into its making was hauled along the Manimala river. The Immanuel Mar Thoma Church in Eraviperoor is not without its share of historical and archaeological importance. Believers also claim it is the first church to have tiled roofing among the state’s Mar Thoma Churches.

Why wouldn’t the believers then oppose a move by some members and the clergy to demolish the church? The experts at Vasthuvidya Gurukulam in Aranmula – the government agency for the promotion of traditional architecture under the Culture Department – had said in its 2006 report the apse of the church is an example for rare laterite dome construction.

“The church is in good condition. Five-hundred people can be accommodated with full visibility and audibility. If a CCTV is installed, the number of people can be increased up to 650,” the Gurukulam report said.One of the complainants to the Pathanamthitta District Collector, K V Oommen Karikkattu, told Express the whole of Eraviperoor had participated in the construction of the church.“The materials were brought through the Manimala river,” Oommen said.

“Those days, there were neither vehicles nor any equipment. Giant logs of wood were brought through the river by mere manpower. The balcony, wooden steps, walls and other segments were constructed with unique techniques. Our pioneers said the roof tiles were brought through the river in a country-boat and transported from the riverside by forming a human chain and passing them over.”

The church officials said the number of believers under the church currently has increased to 4,000.“More space is needed for worship and Holy Mass,” a representative said, attempting to justify the decision to demolish the church and build a new one.

However, the opposing section of believers said there are four chapels under the church and the numbers of those participating in various worships are declining. Philipose Mar Chrysostom, the Valiya Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church, has been vocal about the church as a memorable and precious one.

“The church was constructed during the rule of the Travancore kingdom in 1897 with the support of the Shankaramangalam family. Former head of the church Abraham Mar Thoma Metropolitan’s childhood was also connected with the Immanuel Church,” Mar Chrysostom said in his message to the Shankaramangalam family.  The Valiya Metropolitan’s baptism too was conducted at the church.

The history of the Immanuel Church has also found a place in the village history records of the Eraviperoor grama panchayat.

“Edappally kingdom placed old Christian families on the riverbank of Manimala. They installed small churches roofed with coconut leaves. The Immanuel Church was developed as a modern church in those days using tiles for roofing. One metre-long width of the wall of the church was made of lime and one of the bonding material used is surky,” it says.

– new indian express

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