Total online: 1
|52. AD to 1663 AD.|
Starts with the baptism of our ancestor of the Kalikavu
Brahmin illam of Palayur village to Christianity in 52 AD and ends in 1653AD
when our ancestors left the village of Kuravilegad.
Starts with our ancestors leaving Kuravilegad, their sojourn in
Chaganachery, and settlement in Mepral village. Kochitty Kuruvila, the ancestor
of the Poothicote family was born in 1785.
1785 AD to present
time of Judge Kochitty Kuruvila to the present.
For section I and II, we
will have to depend on oral narratives and living traditions in the family more
than written records. But surprisingly, we have more information of our family
for these periods than most other smaller nations or communities have about
their history during this period. Since 1785, we have accurate written records
and reliable data.
52 -1663 AD.
Our ancestor of the Kalikavu Illam
along with the ancestors of Kadappu, Shankuthiri, and Pakalomittom were baptized
in the temple pond by Apostle St. Thomas in 52 AD in the village of Palayur in
Northern Kerala. At that time Palayur was one of the 64 small Brahmin
settlements in South India... There was also a Jewish settlement here. Even
today one of the hills here is called Judakunnu (Jewish hill). Tradition says
that St. Thomas preached to the Jewish community first before he preached to
One of the old archive records found in the beginning of last
century and quoted by Fr. Pediackel in his book, Marthomasleehayude charithram
states that Kalikavu property was in Palayur village survey no. 156, subdivision
no. 27. In the Family History book of Palakunnathu family which is a branch of
the Pakalomittom family records that the old survey documents showed that
Pakalomittom family owned a land close to the present Palayur church. It is
reasonable to assume that our ancestor from the 4 Brahmin illams lived close to
each other in Palayur. At present, the Kalikavu property is divided in to
several sections and some are owned by Muslim families.
conversion of the 4 Brahmin priests, the rest of the Brahmins of Palayur left
the village cursing the land. So this area came to be known as cursed land,
shapakad which later became Chavakad . The Shiva temple in Palayur was converted
to a Christian Church. Even a 100 years ago, Brahmins did not drink, eat, or
take ceremonial washings if they happened to be in this village. All the
Brahmins from Palayur moved to the nearby village of Venmanad. There was a palm
leaf record kept by a Brahmin family in Venmanad which is quoted by the famous
church historian Rev. Dr Placid. Podipara that showed that in the Hindu kali era
of 3158, a Christian sanyasi Thomas came to the village and converted few
Brahmins by baptizing them in the temple pool and thus desecrated holy temple.
So the rest of the Brahmins moved out of Palayur village.
Brahmin ancestry of early Syrian Christians.
Other than the above story,
there are several customs and traditions in our families that point to an Arian
and Brahmin connection.
When a child is born, giving honey (ponnum thenum)
which is scratched with gold is a tradition among Brahmins and early Kerala
To give the first a male child the name of his paternal
grandfather, and the second son, the name of the maternal grandfather is custom
of early Kerala Christians and Brahmins. In the same way the first daughter is
given the name of paternal grandmother and 2nd daughter given the name of
Children write their first alphabets over rice grains
among the Brahmins and early Kerala Christians.
Most other communities in
Kerala in the early centuries practiced matrilineal system of inheritance, but
Brahmins and Christians practiced patrileneal system.
The system of giving
dowry to daughters when they are married was same for Brahmins and
Tying minnu around the neck of the bride by the bridegroom during
the wedding ceremony is even today practiced by Kerala Christians and
Giving mantrakodi (special clothes or sari) to the bride by the
bridegroom during the ceremony is another similarity.
building) at the entrance to house was allowed only for Brahmins and Christians
in the early centuries.
Placing new clothes (kodi) on the dead bodies by
close relatives was a custom prevalent among Christians and Brahmins even 50
years ago. For Brahmins, the clothes along with the body were cremated. For
Christians, one or two new clothes will cover the body when it is buried, but
the rest will be given away to the poor.
In the past, Christians from
aristocratic families practiced ayitham and untouchability towards lower casts
as the Brahmins did..
Moving out of Palayur
It is believed that our
ancestors moved out Palayur village in the beginning of the 3rd century. The
reasons for their migration out of Palayur are still a matter of speculation
among the historians, but most agree that there was no organized religious
persecution that caused them to leave.
One of the reasons suggested is that
during 2nd century, there was a revival of Shiva worship and faith. There is a
story that Manikya Chevakar, one of the Shiva devotees from Tamil came and
debated many of the early Christians and reconverted them back to the Shiva
According to Sangam recodsof the period, rulers and kings
encouraged intellectual discussion and debates among different faiths. Probably
it was in one of those discussions that Pantenius (190AD) of school of
Alexandria debated local scholars and tried to establish the superiority of
Christian faith. It is possible that our ancestors with their limited knowledge
of Christian theology were unable to defend their faith with other learned
Brahmins and so they decided to move out to a different place.
to oral tradition, from Palayur our ancestors traveled south to Ankamali and
stayed few days there. Then they continued their journey farther south and came
While they reached Eattumanoor, as the time was getting
late and dark, they approached he local temple authorities for help in finding a
place to sleep. After finding out they were Brahmins, they arranged for their
dinner. But once they found out that they had deserted their religion, the
temple authorities arranged for them to stay in a place between Eattumanoor and
Kuravilegad. This was an area set apart for the special worship of Bhadra Kali,
the most vengeful deity of Hindu religion. The temple authorities thought that
goddess would take vengeance on them. But to their great surprise, the temple
authorities found that these visitors were doing well and they were safe and
Temple authorities allowed the new arrivals to stay in the
locality. This place between Eattumanoor and Kuravilegad was the residence for
our ancestors for some time. The place they lived is even now known as Kalikavu
place. According to an old government survey, plot 175, sub-plot 489/5 and 469/6
belongs to the ancestors of our Kalikavu illam. Near by plots belong to Kadappu
and Pakalomittom illams.
There is also old government records according the
great historian Chev. V. C. George that the plot no. 154 sub-division 490/12 was
named valliapalli and it could be site where people from the 4 illams used for
worship. There is also a plot No. 170 north of the temple titled shrapical.
Chev. V.C. George thinks that it could have been a Christian rectory as word
Moving to Kuravilegad
Towards end of the 3rd
century or the beginning of the 4th century, some members of the original 4
illams moved their residence close to the present St. Mary's church in
Kuravilegad. According old records, church was originally built in 337 AD. Some
of our Kalikavu ancestors and some people of other 3 illams moved to houses near
There is a legend that St. Mary appeared to young few children of
these illams and directed them to stream in the forest as they were thirsty.
Later our ancestors built a church near this stream. This stream still flows
near the church and people believe that water from this stream has miraculous
Church was consecrated by Bishop Mor Jacob who came with Cana
Thomas in 345 AD.
According to ancient records, our ancestors of the
Kalikavu family had special duties and privileges in the Kuravilegad church. It
was their duty to prepare kanji and pachoru as food offerings on certain feast
days. It was also the duty of the Kalikavu family descendents to light the oil
lamps around the stone cross in the church courtyard.
priests were from the Pakalomittom and Shankuthiri illams, later there were
priests from all the four illams. It is believed that St. Thomas originally gave
the priesthoods to the 2 illams because they were in charge of the temple in
Palayur at the time of his visit and he wanted to continue that arrangement for
some time. But in course of time there were several illustrious priests from our
Kalikavu family and its branches.
Kalikavu family had house close to
Kuravilegad church and the house gate opened to the churchyard. Presently it is
owned by Pattani family, one of the branches of the original Kalikavu illam.
This family has made great contributions to Kerala Christian heritage. Rev. Fr.
Joseph Pattani, whom this writer knew personally was great family historian and
has done great service in tracing the branches of Kalikavu family. He used to
visit Mepral and our Poothicote Kudumbayogam regularly.
that branched out from the Kalikavu illam are now in different parts of Kerala.
These include several well known Catholic, Orthodox. and Protestant families.
Like our Poothicote family, Thenassery, Pediackel, Kurialassery, Porookara,
Chakalamuriyil, Vakkayil, Kaniparampil, Nadvilemuriyil are few of the families
that trace their origin to original Kalikavu illam. According to one estimate,
about 150 families can trace their ancestry to the Kalikavu roots.
of our fathers:
As there are all Christian denominations among the
descendants of Kalikavu family and other illams today, we may now look in to the
faith and ecclesiastical affiliation of our ancestors. Unfortunately many
historians try to prove that the early Christians of Kerala belonged a
particular denomination or other depending on writer's present affiliation..
Nothing could be far from the truth.
In the sense that all Christian
believers are the body of Christ and we are all one irrespective of our race,
color, or to what particular denomination we belong to, we can say that all
Christians are always interrelated. In the present ecumenical environment and in
the light of 2nd Vatican Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church, all
Christians belong to the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of a universal
But we Kerala Christians because of our isolated existence, was
an indigenous Church with a unique ecclesial identity until the 16th century. We
did not have any affiliations or contacts with any western Christian churches
including Roman Catholic Church till 16th centaury. It is through the Portuguese
colonial powers that we were introduced to the western Latin Christianity. In
the same way, we were not always under the direct continuous control of the
Jacobite Church of Antioch before the arrival of Mor Gregoriose in
It is safe to say that our ancestors were Christian in faith,
Indian in culture, and Syrian in liturgy. We should look objectively at this
We have seen that after the baptism of our ancestors, we had
priests first from Pakalomittom and Sankuthiri illams and later from all the
four illams. But for the first 300 years we did not have any ecclesiastical
contact with any other churches. Our first contact was with the Edessan
Christians when they arrived in our shores with Thomas of Cana and Bishop Mor
Joseph of Uraha in 345 AD. At that time, Edessa was under the Patriarchal See of
Antioch. Later at our request and some times on their own, several prelates from
Babylon, Alexandria, and Syria visited us. We had relations with eastern Syrian
Caladean Church and western Syrian Church Antioch.
The Persian Church
became 2 competing factions after the Nestorian controversy of the 5th century.
One division under a Muphriana who was under the Patriarch of Antioch continued
in the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox faith. The other division under a Catholicose
who turned Nestorian in its faith after the 5th century. We had bishops from
There is evidence that we have used eastern Syriac of the
eastern Chaldean church and the western Syriac of the Antioch in of liturgies.
At least in the 15th century, we had Nestorian bishops from Persia when the
Portuguese first came to Kerala .
Though we had Syrian prelates from time
to time, we had a republican form of administration for our churches. Members of
each parish church with their priests managed affairs of the church
independently. For all the Kerala churches, there was a common leader who was
the Arch Deacon (Arkadayoken) from the Pakalomittom family. He had several civil
powers as the head of the Syrian Christians. He was the chief spokesman for our
community before the local rulers. The foreign priests and prelates from Syria
never interfered in the local administration. Their duties were confined to
ordaining priests and other sacramental duties.
1663 TO 1785
The reason for our Poothicote family
leaving Kuravilegad is intimately connected with church controversies of that
The Portuguese who came to Kerala as traders gradually became a
colonial power and became very influential with Kerala rulers of the period. The
Portuguese were Latin Catholics and they wanted to bring the Kerala Christians
under the rule of Latin bishops. Kerala Christians with the Syrian connection
and liturgy resisted this encroachment of Latin priests. But according to
Padroado agreement between the Pope and the King of Portugal, Portuguese
prelates had power over Christians in India. The Portuguese naval power
prevented Syrian bishops visiting Kerala.
It was this time a Syrian
prelate, Ahathalla arrived in Cochin. The rumor spread among the local
Christians that their bishop was in Portuguese custody in the ship. An angry
crowd marched to Portuguese ship demanding his release. By the time they reached
the shores, the ship had moved out to the sea with the Ahathalla. Rumor spread
that the Portuguese had drowned their bishop.
Under the leadership of
their Arch-deacon Thomas of the Pakalomittom family, the crowd moved to take a
historic oath in the Mattanchery Church, holding on a long rope tied to a stone
cross. This is known as Koonan Kurish Sathyam or the oath of the bended cross
which took place on Friday, January 3rd, 1653.. By this oath, Syrian Christian
of Kerala denounced Portuguese and Latin prelates and affirmed that they will
not be under their authority. Also at meeting in Alengad on the Feast of
Pentecost on May 22, 1653, they proclaimed their leader Arch deacon Thomas of
Pakalomittom family as their duly elected bishop. He was temporarily ordained by
12 priests and he assumed the title Marthoma I. It was contrary to the cannons
of Church that a bishop was consecrated by priests. (Bishop Thoma I was
re-ordained by visiting Mor Gregoriose of Jerusalem of Jacobite church in
During all this time one of the right hand men of the Arch Deacon
was his cousin Chandy from Pakalomittom Parampil family, who was the parish
priest of the Kuravilegad church. They both were from the original Pakalomittom
Fr. Chandy had second thoughts about the ordination of his cousin.
By this time Rome send 4 Carmelite priests under the leadership of Fr. Joseph
Sebestiani to pacify the Syrian Christians of Kerala . These priests were living
in a rectory near the St. Mary's Church of Kuravilegad. People of the parish and
the members of the original 4 families were divided in to 2 factions, one
supporting the Arch Deacon and the other supporting his cousin Fr. Chandy. There
were several arguments and fights in the church and outside the church. On one
occasion a letter from the Arch Deacon for the parish written in palm leaves
were publicly burned by a foreign Carmelite priest. On another occasion, the
Arch deacon's brother was prevented from entering the church. Once one group
tried to prevent a baptismal ceremony in the church by a foreign
On one occasion, when Fr. Chandy was returning as after visiting
the Latin bishop Garcia, some people on the Arch Deacon's side tried to abduct
him, but he escaped.
At least in one of these occasions, situation
completely went out of hand and some things untoward happened. We have to
remember that the Syrian Christian men of the period were always well armed and
skilled in the use of weapons.
In nalagamam an ancient manuscript written
by Fr. Palakunnel Martha Mariam writes that the founder of the Palakunneth
Thazhmon branch, Iyyob left Kuravilegad with his family in January, 1663
following misadventure with a weapon. He was with the Arch Deacon party in the
conflict. Palakunnathu family later returned to the Syro- Malabar Catholic
Church under Rome.
Originally all Christians who left Kuravilegad were
with Marthoma I. But later Rome appointed Fr. Chandy as the Syrian Christian
bishop with the title Alexander De Campo. He was ordained on February 1, 1663.
May had also doubts about the validity of the ordination of Marthoma I by 12
priests. (It was only after 12 years that the visiting Mor Gregoriose of the
Jacobite Church canonized this ordination). This made many to return to the
Catholic fold. Further some of the bishops of church in Persia joined the Roman
Catholic Church in the 16th centaury. So now the Catholic Church could bring
Syrian priests and prelates whom the Kerala Christians could readily recognize
and approve. This strengthened the formation of Syro- Malabar Catholic church
with its liturgy in eastern Chaldean Syriac. Unfortunately after the death of
Pakalomittom Chandy Metran, Syro- Malabar Catholic was with out local Syrian
Christian bishop till the end of the 19th century.
Our ancestor, Oommen
of Kalikavu branch also may have left Kuravilegad at the same time. It coincides
with the story in many other families that left Kuravilegad during the same
OUR ANCESTOR OOMMEN IN CHAGANACHERRY
We have seen that
Oommen, the ancestor of the Poothicote and other sub-branches left Kuravilegad
in 1663. He was strongly on the side of the Arch Deacon (Marthoma I). But the
king of Vadakkunkur under whose jurisdiction was Kuravilegad sided Fr. Chandy.
The king sent arrest warrants for those who opposed him. In this situation, some
members of the 4 illams, who supported Marthoma I left Kuravilegad.
ancestor, Oommen, with a brother and sister traveled south and sought the
protection of the ruler of Chaganachery. Chaganachery was in Thekkumkur kingdom
and by the time the Dutch had become a power and trading partner if the
Thekkumkur kingdom . The king of Thekkumkur had agreed to the Dutch that he
would not allow Portuguese or Carmelite priests in their kingdom.
ancestor Oommen's brother was a priest in the Chaganachery church which in those
days was a branch church (kurishupalli) of Niranam Church. Our ancestors lived
for 4 generations in Chaganachery. They were very close to the rulers and they
lived in a house near the present municipal court. During this period we became
related to several families in the area including the Kallarackel family of
Chaganachery. More research is needed about the life of our ancestors in
Kuruvila and Mathen are children or grandchildren of Oommen
who came from Kuravilagad.
Mathen moved to Thiruvella and became the
ancestor of Chalakuzhy family. He died in a smallpox epidemic.
ANCESTOR KURUVILA MOVES TO MEPRAL
Kuruvila moved to Mepral and bought a
property named Poothicote near Kuzhivelipram. It is from this property that we
got the family name poothicote.
Mepral in those days were under the local
chieftain, Azhiytdathu Prabhu. It was at the invitation of this ruler that
Kuruvila moved to Mepral.