Kadamattom Church

Great legendary figure Rev. Fr. Paulose Kathanar alias Kadamattathu Kathanar lived in this church and people are not sure about the period.

Kadamattom church
Kadamattom church

Viji told us that Kadamattathu Kathanar finds a very prominent place in the local mythical stories Asianet broadcasts the serial ‘Kadamattathu Kathanar’.

A worker cleaning the outer wall of Kadamattom church
A worker cleaning the outer wall of Kadamattom church

Rajeshattan told that the rush of pilgrims to this place has been there from time immemorial. And the church was lively with the celebration of Holy Sacraments according to the Antiochean Syrian Orthodox rite. But unfortunately, the church is gripped in the faction feud of Malankara Church and is closed now.

Before going to the wedding, we thought of parking the car in the Poyedam Church.

Poyedam church
Poyedam church

It is  a new building compared to the Kadamattom.  Near this church is the famous ‘well’ known as ‘Pathala Kinar’ (the well through which Kathanar went to the underworld).

well near Poyedam church
well near Poyedam church

The Poyedam church can be seen from the back of the Kadamattom church and is only walkable distance from there.
Rajeshattan informed us that devotees of Kathanar, mostly non-Christians, throw money, butchered hen and bottles of liquor into the well as a mark of respect and gratitude to Kathanar. A witchcraft known as ‘kadamattom seva’ is also popular among non-Christian devotees here.

Devotees throw bottles, money, buthchered hen into the well
Devotees throw bottles, money, buthchered hen into the well

Jacobites have a chapel near the Poyedam church, where Eldho’s wedding was organised.

Jacobit chapel wher Eldho's wedding happened
Jacobit chapel wher Eldho’s wedding happened

Kadamattom church is not accessible to worship. Devotees are forced to be satisfied by praying at the doorsteps in front of the closed main door.

Huge lamp in Kadamattom church
Huge lamp in Kadamattom church

Devotees light candles in front of the door and pray.

closed main door of kadamattom church
closed main door of kadamattom church

But we were fortunate enough to enter the church from a side door which was kept open for some renovation. In fact, workers were cleaning the walls of the outer building when we visited the place.

nadakashala in kadamattom church
nadakashala in kadamattom church

There are many traces of Hindu temple architecture having influenced the church and the main door of the church holds mirror for it. There is a huge lamp inside similar to Hindu temples.

Inside the church
Inside the church

The ‘nadakashala’ is the place where devotees pray.

old chandelier hangs from the mural adorned ceiling in kadamattom church
old chandelier hangs from the mural adorned ceiling in kadamattom church

Old chandeliers, pictures of saints, including Kathanar in eyes of a painter as an old man dressed white and having a long white beard which is a characteristic of Syrian Orthodox tradition belief drew our attention.

Kathanar in the eyes of an artist
Kathanar in the eyes of an artist

Rajeshattan informed us that there were around 2,000 families under this Parish spread around Kadamattom. It is believed that Mar Abo, (also known as Mar Sabour), a Persian prelate established the church with the help and permission of local ruler of Kadamattom.

Mar Abo was a theologian, conjurer and herbalist. He stayed in a hut along with a poor old widow and her son Paulose and the place which houses Poyedam church now. Paulose assisted Mar Abo for several years and Mar Abo ordained Paulose as priest and he later became famous as Kadamatttathu Kathanar.

Rajeshattan telling about Kathanar's miracles
Rajeshattan telling about Kathanar’s miracles

Kadamattathu Kathanar was a famous magician and a conjurer, blessed with divine powers. Folklore describe his feats against evil forces, witchery and incantation with his prayers and divine powers. He always helped the poor and the needy, irrespective of caste and creed.

Rajesh and Viji in front of Kadamattom church
Rajesh and Viji in front of Kadamattom church

The stories about Kathanar were indeed interesting.

One day, young Paulos was grazing cattle of the priest when he had to enter the forest in search of a strayed cow.  Mala Arayas, a cannibal tribe in the jungle capture him. The chief of the tribe likes the intelligence of the and teaches him the magic which the tribe had been practising for long. Paulos stayed with the tribe for 12 years and escapes. After walking few miles, he finds a hut on the roadside and requests her to give him some food.

She informs him that she too is hungry and there was no rice at home to cook. He asks her to find at least some rice gains in the house and get them to him. On his advice, the old woman boils water by putting few grains found at home and gets pot full of rice.

After hearing this story, I felt how Hindu tradition has greatly influenced the Christianity. In Mahabharata, during the exile of the Pandavas, Durvasa visits them with his disciples. During this period, the Pandavas obtained their food by means of the Akshaya Patra, which would become exhausted for the day once Draupadi finished her meal. When Durvasa arrived there was no food left to serve him, and the Pandavas were very anxious as to what would be their fate if they failed to feed such a venerable sage. While Durvasa and his disciples were away at the banks of the river bathing, Draupadi prayed to Lord Krishna for help. Sri Krishna partook the lone grain of rice that remained in the Akshaya Patra and announced that he was satisfied by the meal. This satiated the hunger of Durvasa and all his disciples too, as the satisfaction of Lord Krishna meant the satiation of the hunger of the whole universe. The sage and his disciples then left, blessing the Pandavas.

The concept of Akshaya Patra might have influenced people while praisng Kathanar through folk songs.

Viji, and and Vij
Viji, and and Vij

People from all over Kerala sought his help often for various matters. He had lots of disciples also.

Kadamattom church
Kadamattom church

Another interesting story about Kathanar is associated with yakshi. The capital of Travancore in those days was Padmanabhapuram, now in Tamil Nadu. There was a deep forest between Thiruvanathapuram and Padmanbhapuram. But  people were forced to use the forest track to reac. One Yakshi settled in the forest,  in the guise of a beautiful woman wait by the wayside and request travellers for white lime for her pan. After getting lime, she used to chat and entice them to go with her deep into the forest. Once inside she would kill them, drink their blood and eat them. Only hair and teeth would be left. So people were scared to go that way and she started catching people from neighbouring villages. The village elders sought the help of Kathanaar. He went to the forest and offered to her on an iron nail. Although Yakshi initially hesitates, finally accepts. The priest reciting some magical words inserts the nail into her head and walks back to Kadamattam. Yakshi follows him like a lamb and after after walking for four to five days, they reach  the house of an old woman at Kayamkulam. The priest offers the old woman to keep as a domestic help. After the lunch, the old woman combs the hair of Yakshi and removes  the iron nail from her head. Yakshi immediately gets back her powers and becomes invisible.

After learning about the incident, Kathanar reaches  Parayannarkavu  (kavu is a small temple) in search of Yakshi.  After taking promise from Yakshi that she would not harm people, he allows her to stay there.  Later, she became famous as Panayanarkavu Yakshi or Parumala Yakshi.

There are many folk tales, quite interesting, about Kathanar and his miracles. People strongly belive that he went to the other world by jumping into a well in the church complex.

road leading to the Kadamattom church
road leading to the Kadamattom church

After taking few pictures we rushed for Eldho’s reception arranged in a school, just near the hotel where we stayed.

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