Tuesday, November 21, 2017

St. Catherine Church, Eraviputhenthurai, Kanyakumari

St. Catherine Church, Eraviputhenthurai, Kanyakumari
St. Catherine Church is located at Eraviputhenthurai Village on the coast of the Arabian Sea in Thoothoor Village Panchayat in Vilavancode Taluk in Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu. This village is bounded in the north by the A.V.M (Anantha Victoria Marthandam) Canal, south by the Arabian Sea, east by Chinnathurai village and west by Thadeupuram village.

The History of Eraviputhenthurai can be traced from the legend. In the 16th century this region was ruled by King Kalinga. People say that this village changed after the legendary story happened in the Kingdom of Kalinga. Kalinga arranged marriage for his daughter. He invited well-wishers from everywhere and also invited Mother Sea, who instructed him in a dream that if she came, the kingdom would be no more. But the king compelled her to attend. In return Mother Sea sent a Tsunami in the 16th century which destroyed his dynasty.
After some years King Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma decided to make this village the capital calling it Aadhithyanthurai (Aadhithya-name of King Aadhithya Varma, King's father and Thurai—Coastal Village). Later in the 19th century Maharaja Marthanda Varma succeeded Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma. The Varma's reign was an important stage in the history of Travancore. Marthanda Varma's policy towards the Dutch and English had no support from his own people and was obliged to depend on foreign mercenaries.
The armies which led him to victory owed their efficiency and fighting skill to Flemish soldier D'Lannoy's discipline, who built Travancore forts after he was taken captive at the battle of Colachel. When Marthanda Varma ascended the ancestral throne, the Dutch were powerful in the east. They had settlements in the Pacific and the Indian oceans and a number of fortified places in Ceylon and the Coromandel and Malabar Coasts. Most Malabar rulers were under their influence while some were their acknowledged vassals. Varma's successes flowed from a steady policy of national political expansion.
The suppression of the Poligars of Tinnevelly and the buttressing of the authority of the Nawab of the Carnatic were achieved by the East India Company with the active help of the Maharaja who sent large armies to fight the enemy at Vasudevanallur, Nellithankavila and many another places. However, the Maharaja was obliged to recognize the formal precedence of the Nawab. King Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma planned to dig a canal from Poovar to Erayumanthurai connecting river Neyyar in Poovar and river Tamirabarani in Eraiyumenthurai.
In 1860, he named the canal AVM canal (Anantha Victoria Marthanda Varma) canal. Here Anantha stands for King Anantha Varman—Father of UTM Varman, Victoria refers to Queen Victoria who ruled over India during this time and Marthanda refers to Marthanda Varman, the King. Soon after this the King constructed the first Bridge above this canal for free traveling and named it Aadhithyanthurai Bridge which still remains, ruined at E.P. Thurai Edappadu, justifying the history.
Later an epidemic took many lives. Many people moved towards east and settle down there and called that village as Puthenthurai (Puthen-New., Thurai- Coastal Village). Later on, Puthenthurai was attacked by great tsunamis and many people lost their lives. During this flood, a soldier named Eravikuttipilla helped to rescue many people so the people named the village Eraviputhenthurai. Portuguese missionaries invaded this village and built a Church under the Patronage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. People were very much happy to call this village honoring the Patroness as Santacatherinaputhenthurai (Stcatherineputhenthurai.).
The Church
St. Catherine Church plays a vital role in the day-to-day life of Eraviputhenthurai. The village's conversion may be traced back to not later than A.D. 1544 when St. Francis Xavier converted nearly 10,000 Mukkuvars (fishermen and women) living in thirteen villages along the coast from Pallam to Poovar. Immediately thereafter they pulled down their Hindu temple and idols. A cross was built and thatches were made for worship. In due course, they were converted into churches.
In 1600, the existing Thoothoor Parish Church was brought under the Padroado. Thoothoor Parish came under the Diocese of Cochin. In 1838, St. Thomas Church, Thoothoor and other adjacent coastal Churches from Pallithura to Erayumanthurai were brought under the Diocese of Varapuzha. Ultimately Thoothoor was brought under the Diocese of Cochin in 1850.
Under the Diocese of Cochin St. Catherine Church was Built at Adthiyanthurai (Eraviputhenthurai). The Patroness was St. Catherine of Alexandria. The church was constructed by English missionaries. Later in the 19th century this village was flooded. The new village was named Puthenthurai (Puthen =New. Thurai = Coastal Village). The name of the village became Santa Catherina Puthenthurai) (St catherineputhenthurai). In the 1860s a new Church was constructed, followed by another in 1886. The tower of this Church was destroyed by a storm.
In the middle of the 20th century, Rev. Fr. Rayyapan Parithyal started to build another new Church. In 1968 Rev. Fr. Francis Neetany wanted to reconstruct the Altar, which was completed on February 4, 1990. It was blessed by Rt. Rev. Dr. Soosai Pakiyam, Bishop of Diocese Trivandrum. In 2003 the tower was destroyed by a storm. Maintenance was started in 2003 by Rev. Fr. Stansilaus Theesmas and completed during the period of Rev. Fr. John Churchill Bas on November 2004.
St. Joseph's Shrine:
In 1972, Dennis Kanakkapillai initiated to construct a Shrine for St. Joseph at Eraviputhenthurai. Mr. Alphonse Pirisant cooperated with him for the construction work and provided the fund for construction. They opened the Shrine that year and it was blessed by Rev. Fr. Francis Neetany. Later on, reconstruction was started during the period of Rev. Fr. John Churchill Bas in 2004. The Face for the Shrine was planned by Mr. Robert Singh of Eraviputhenthurai. The work was started and new Shrine was opened on 1 May 2005 by Rev. Dr. Youhannon Mar Chrisostom, Bishop of Marthandam.
The Church is located at about 5 Kms from Kollamkode, 15 Kms from Marthandam, 17 Kms from Kuzhithurai, 15 Kms from Nattalam, 13 Kms from Parassala, 40 Kms from Nagercoil, 60 Kms from Kanyakumari, 23 Kms from Colachel, 26 Kms from Thuckalay and 45 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Nearest Railway Station is Parassala (11.2 Kms), Kuzhithurai (15.6 Kms) Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station (38.9 Kms) and Nagercoil Junction Railway station (43.5 Kms). Nearest Airport is Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (41.7 Kms).