Mr. Ajesh T Philip presenting the icon of St Gregorious to Mr. Xavier
OCP News Service(Exclusive)
* Mr. Ajesh T Philip discovered the lost Orthodox Community of St Gregorious of Parumala in Dindigul.
Dindigul/Tamil Nadu: As part of the decision of the Executive Committee Secretary George Alexander and Mr Ajesh Phillip (OCP Ambassador and Correspondent) visited the St Gregorious Community in Dindigul on 20th October 2012. The OCP delegation met with Mr Paul (P-A-L) Raj and his family members. On behalf of the Executive Council they were presented with a Raja Ravi Varma Painting of St Gregorious of Paumala. On 22nd October the delegation met with Mr Xavier who is presently practicing Siddha Medicine and interviewed him in detail about their relations with St Gregorious of Parumala. After the interview he was presented with an icon of the Saint. Mr George thanked the family members for their courtesy and wholehearted cooperation.
The objective of the visit was to study more on the details and life of this isolated community. The discovery and reporting about this community had brought certain ambiguity about their history and connections with St Gregorious of Parumala. After reading the report many people connected the community to the Missionary works of Metropolitan Alvarez Mar Julius. Hence there aroused a deep requirement to bring more clarity about this lost Orthodox community.
OCP Delegation presenting the painting of St Gregorious to Mr. Paul Raj
Ajesh T Philip & George Alexander
Department of Church Research and Studies
Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE Society
The family consists of Paul Raj his brother Xavier and their family members. Paul Raj has five children and his brother Mr Xavier has three kids. Mr Xavier is the practitioner of traditional Siddha medicine. He also operates a clinic in Madhurai apart from his consultation works in Dindigul. He has resided in Kerala around ten years in Chengannur from where he acquired specialized training Siddha Medicine although he has received the Siddha medicine skills as part of the family traditions. Mr Paul Raj has also worked as mason at Chengannur even at Chegannur Bethel Orthodox Church.
Paul Raj’s and Xavier’s parents (Susai and Anthony Ammal) hailed from Mamsapauram, Rajapalam near Thirunalveli. Their parents have worked at tea estates in and around Kumali area. The family is traditional Christians.
Mysterious Connections to St Gregorious of Parumala (Historical)
The family is still unaware of their historical connection to St Gregorious. Mr Xavier described that his forefathers (Periyappa or great grandfather) had an intimate spiritual connection with St Gregorious of Parumala. But he is unaware how the connection began. At the same time their contemporary presence in Kerala in the form of Siddha Medicine studies and mason job should have helped them to pay frequent visits to the Parumala Church. It is interesting to note that Mr Xavier visited Kelara(Parumala Church) for the first at the age of nine, but even before that he knew about Parumala Ayya from his parents and used to make intercession prayers.
Xavier strongly stated that they were not part of the Roman Catholic Church, but since their migration, to Dindigul, they were forced to practice Roman Catholicism since they were left out with any other options. Xavier also added that their spiritual relationship with the great Saint of Parumala is hereditary passed on from generation to generation.
Mr Xavier inside his clinic
Strong Belief in the Intercession of ‘Parumala Ayya’
The Family has got great reverence for the Saint of Parumala and strongly believes in the intercession and blessings. Paul Raj’s youngest daughter did not have children after three years of marriage. Their deep intercession prayers in the name of St Gregorious have gifted them with a baby boy. Their testimony reveals the deep-rooted faith and relation with Parumala Ayya. Xavier confirms that he use to have miraculous vision of Parumlala Ayya while sleeping where the saint prompts him to make pilgrimage to the Parumala Church.
Birth of ‘Parumala’ inside Parumala Church
Xavier’s fist daughter was born inside the Parumala Church. He explains the incident as follows…
Twenty years back, Mr. Xavier and his wife visited the Parumala Church on a bicycle but unfortunately, it was a day of a strike in Kerala. His wife was pregnant and it was the ninth month for her. Suddenly the pain began and she gave birth to a baby girl with the help of some nuns who were present inside the church. Hence they gave the name “Parumala” to their first born daughter as they consider her birth as a great blessing from the saint.
The Siddha Clinic run by Mr Xavier
Siddha treatment in the name of St Gregorious of Parumala
The Siddha treatments performed with the blessing of the great saint, especially for neurotic problems, impotency and serious fractures. The medicinal plants are collected from the nearby hills of Dindigul Chirumalai and Pandrimalai. Local belief is that these two hills had fallen from the hands Hanuman while carrying the hills with ‘Mrithasangivini’ in his hands. He prints business card in Tamil with the photo of St Gregorious of Parumala and he has distributed it to several places like Sri Lanka, South Africa.
Card with the picture of St Gregorios of Parumala
Claim of a Community of St Gregorious in South Africa
Once a South African family came for Siddha treatment and they where healed. They got very much inspired by the blessing of St Gregorious of Parumala. They took several cards of Pruamala Ayya from Xavier. Xavier claims that an indigenous community in the name of St Gregorious has been formed in South Africa recently. This community practice intercession prayers in the name of St Gregarious.
Possibility of Metropolitan Julius Alvarez Connection
Some literature sources reveal that Dindugul was one of the Mission centers of the Saintly Archbishop Mor Julius Alvarez of the Indian Malankara Orthodox Church with the possibility of more than hundred families. Also Tirunelveli is one of the oldest Christian centers including the presence of Orthodox Christians. This is the place from which Paul Raj’s and Xavier’s’ father hails from. The OCP delegation showed the picture of Metropolitan Mor Julius Alvarez to Mr Xavier but he could not recognize the Bishop. But there shall be a possible link between the origin of this community and the missionary toils of Saintly Mor Julius Alvarez and his reunion movement to the Indian Malankara Orthodox Church.
Common Roman Catholic Cemetery and the separate family Cemetery
The family has a separate cemetery apart from the Roman Catholic Church Cemetery to which they belong at present. The family cemetery is located almost 100 meters away from the common cemetery. They light candles every evening at the family graveyard, a tradition from their forefathers which is Orthodox in nature. Their great-grandfather was buried in Dindigul but some how they lost the exact place. Later with the help of a map they located the exact position of the burial place and constructed their family cemetery.
Painting of St Gregorious kept inside the Clinic near the small bottle which contains blessed oil from the Parumala Church
Mr. Xavier runs an unregistered trust in the name of St Gregorious of Parumlala. He spends a part of his earning to help local people in distress especially those who are suffering from various illness.
The Ravi Varma painting of St Gregorious of Parumala gifted by the OCP delegation on 20th of October was taken to their Church and was blessed by the local Priest.
The Executive Council of Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE will have a discussion about this community with the hierarchy of the Indian Malankara Orthodox Church. OCP Society will provide all necessary moral support to the community of St Gregorious of Parumala.
Ajesh T Philip: Ajesh Philip has acquired his Masters in Botany and bachelors in Education and teaching. He is currently perusing Ph.D on Ethno-gynecological studies on the tribes of Idukki,Kerala-India at Gandhigram Rural University. His areas of interest is Orthodox Liturgy and Church history. He has several years of experience serving youth organizations of the Indian Malankara Orthodox Church. He serves as the Ambassador and Correspondent of OCP Society and Media Network and as a consultant to OCP Department of Church Research and Studies.
George Alexander: George is the Secretary of Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE. He holds a Post Graduate Degree in Social Work and a Minor Research Degree in Social Sciences . He is a writer, orator and human resource trainer. He has three books and numerous articles to his credit. His areas of interest are Orthodox Church management, contemporary Orthodoxy, Pan-Orthodox unity, inter-Orthodox policies and relations.
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