St.George Forane Church
Location in Kerala, India
|Coordinates: 9°22′0″N 76°28′0″E / 9.36667°N 76.46667°ECoordinates: 9°22′0″N 76°28′0″E / 9.36667°N 76.46667°E|
|• Official||Malayalam, English|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Telephone code||(0477 21...)|
|Nearest city||Alappuzha and Thiruvalla|
Situated 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from Thiruvalla Town, Edathua is famous for the St. George Catholic Church known as Edathua Palli. The church celebrates its major feast during the month of May. It is an important destination for the Christian and non-Christian pilgrims. The old Edathua Palli was built when Fr. Thomas Olakkapady was the vicar of the palli. People from throughout the state as well as from the neighboring states visit the town and the church. St. Aloysius college which is under Mahatma Gandhi University built and managed by the Church parish is located here.
Edathua is in the Kuttanad region. It lies below sea level: agricultural land (rice farms) in this region are separated from big and small rivers that run like the highways, streets and avenues of New York around the blocks of farms by high mud levees (bunds called Puravaramp). Farmers and agricultural workers built and build their habitat and houses on reclaimed land by expanding upon these levees around these paddy fields known as padam. These levees are also often planted with coconut trees, a major commercial crop in the region. The area attracts a lot of international tourists. Houseboat trips through the backwaters and river systems of this spectacular evergreen region is available from near Edathua.
Situated on the banks of a branch of the Pamba river, the massive shrine at Edathua, 23 kilometres (14 mi) south-east of Alappuzha and 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) south-west of Thiruvalla and built more than 200 years ago resembles the churches of medieval Europe. The very ancient Niranam Orthodox Church, believed to be originally established by St Thomas himself, the disciple of Jesus Christ, in the 1st century AD, is just a few kilometres south-east of Edathua. There are a number of ancient Hindu temples with interesting legends and history in the surrounding villages of Edathua such as Changankary, Pandankary, Mithrakkary, Kozhimukk, Anapparampal and Veeyapuram. Veeyapuram also has a Muslem mosque. The Chakkulathukavu temple which has become very famous for the ponkala celebration in recent decades is less than 5 km east of Edathua. The Mannarsala Snake Temple, believed to be more than 3000 years old, is just a few kilometres south of Edathua. It is said that Edathua got its name because in ancient times it was a "resting spot" (edathavalam), for the king's men and traders traveling by the river.
The annual feast of the above-mentioned Catholic church starts on 27 April with the hoisting of the flag and concludes on 7 May. During the feast, the statue of St. George, decked in gold regalia, is carried out and placed on the dais at the center of the basilica. St George is known as Geevarghese Punyavalan among Nasrani, St Thomas Christians of Kerela (also known as Syrian Christians because they used a Syrian dialect of Hebrew, instead of the Latin used by some western Christians, in special church prayers). How St George came to be known as Geevarghese and became one of the most popular saints among the Syrian Christians of Kerala is still a topic of interest for researchers to investigate adequately.
Devotees from other states are the main contributors to this Church feast and they spread themselves in vast area around, even staying in the private properties of the local residents. In fact, the feast, known as "Edathua Perunnal", helped Edathua to develop as one of the most important commercial centers for the rice farmers and agricultural workers in Kuttanad region. During the feast most relatives and family members from outside Edathua come and visit their houses and thus it is an occasion for family get-togethers for the people of Edathua, like Thanksgiving Day and Christmas in the US and Europe. Participating in the feast is a very important pilgrimage for the people especially those from the southern Kollum, Trivandrum side of Kerala and Kanyakumari District of Tamilnad. During the 10-day feast, many of these devotees stay and cook food in the church premises and take part in a kind of ritual bathing in the river in front of the church. The colorful illumination of the church and traditional fireworks during the feast attract huge crowds of devotees and non-devotees.
The late Varghese Augustine Punchaichira, the first elected Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the then Thakazhy constituency after India's independence, was from Edathua. He defeated his friend and the now famous novelist, the late Thakazhy Shivashankarappilla in the election. Edathua is the home town of the international swimmer Sebastian Xavier of Manammal family. It is also the home of H.G.Mathews Mar Theodosius, the Metropolitan of Idukki Diocese. Malankara Orthodox Church belongs to Kannammalil family Pandenkary . 'Keralaassisi' Puthenparampil Thommachean, the founder of the Franciscan Third order in Kerala, is also from Edathua.
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