Genealogy of our family is divided in to 3 sections
Section I. 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.
Section II. 1663 to 1785
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.
Section III. 1785 AD to present
From the time of Judge Kochitty Kuruvila to the present.
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
Section I and II will be included in this chapter. Section III is included in the chapter Genealogy Part B.
Section I 52 -1663 AD.
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 others.
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.
the 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.
Evidence of Brahmin ancestry of early Syrian Christians.
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 Christians.
- 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 maternal grandmother.
- 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 Christians.
- Tying minnu around the neck of the bride by
the bridegroom during the wedding ceremony is even today practiced by
Kerala Christians and Brahmins.
- Giving mantrakodi (special clothes or sari) to the bride by the bridegroom during the ceremony is another similarity.
- Padipura (annex 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
- 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 faith.
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
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 to Eattumanoor.
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
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.
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 shrapical denotes.
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 the
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 powers.
Church was consecrated by Bishop Mor Jacob who came with Cana Thomas in 345 AD.
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.
originally 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.
families 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.
Faith of our fathers:
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.
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
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 1665.
is safe to say that our ancestors were Christian in faith, Indian in
culture, and Syrian in liturgy. We should look objectively at this
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 both divisions.
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 .
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.
SECTION II. 1663 TO 1785 AD.
The reason for our Poothicote family leaving Kuravilegad is intimately connected with church controversies of that period.
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
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.
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 1665).
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 period.
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.
Our 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 Chaganachery.
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.
OUR ANCESTOR KURUVILA MOVES TO MEPRAL
moved to Mepral and bought a property named Poothicote near
Kuzhivelipram. It is from this property that we got the family name
in those days were under the local chieftain, Azhiytdathu Prabhu. It
was at the invitation of this ruler that Kuruvila moved to Mepral.
Kuruvila (Poothicote, Kuzhivelipram) had 2 children.
Children: 1. Kuruvila Padijareveedu
2. Cherian Kizhakeveetil
Kuruvila Padijareveedu had 2 children.
Children: 1. Rev. Fr. Kuruvila Kunju Thommen
Rev. Fr. Kuruvila Kunju Thommen was an unmarried priest in Niranam
church. He was a prominent priest and secretary of Metropolitan
Dianacius the Great.
Kunjadamma, the only daughter was married to Pothen of Thazathu
Manammel family in Puthupally. This Pothen is the son of famous Judge
Pothen of Thazhathu family. Pothen and Kunjadamma acquired the
inheritance of Kuruvila Padijareveedu in Mepral. The present Manammel
family of Mepral descends from this couple.
Cherian, Kizhakeveedu, the younger son of Kuruvila (Poothicote, Kuzhivelipram) had only one son, Kunju Thommen.
Kunju Thommen married Accamma of Moolamannil family.
Children: 1. Cherian
2. Kochitty Kuruvila
Children: 1. Accamma
the eldest son of Kunju Thommen, had only 2 daughters. Accamma and
Kunjadamma. By the time Accamma and Kunjadamma were of marriageable
age, Cherian had died. So his brother Kochitty Kuruvila gave them in
marriage after paying the usual dowry of the period.
Accamma was married to Thonipurackel (Chaluvaleth) family in Puthupally.
Kunjadamma, the 2nd
daughter of Cherian was married to Polackel family in Edathua.
Illampally, Kattumbhagam, Karimparampu, and Padupurackel families of
Kuruvila was the youngest son of Kunju Thommen and Accamma of
Moolamannil. He was much younger than his brother Cherian. His parents
died when he was young. He was brought up by his grandfather Cherian
and brother Cherian
Kochitty Kuruvila is the ancestor all the members of the present Poothicote family. He is commonly known as Judgi Valliappan (Judge Great-grandpa)