ST.GEORGE ORTHODOX CHURCH
( PUTHUPPALLY PALLY )
GEORGIAN PILGRIM CENTRE OF THE EAST
This ancient church renowned all over the world as
"PUTHUPPALLY PALLY" or "PUTHUPPALLY
VALIYAPALLY" situated on the eastern bank of the rivulet
Kodoorar and beside the Puthuppally-Changancherry road about
a kilometer away from Puthuppally junction was rebuilt, expanded
or renovated five times during the past four and half centuries
of its existence.
It was originally built as a "kochu pally"
(Chapel) in the name of St.Mary in AD 1557 near Vazhakulam Hindu
temple on a hillock which later came to be known as Kochupallikunnu.
Eight decades later in AD 1640 it was shifted and rebuilt in
the name of Mar Bahanan Sahada at Elamthuruthi Kunnu, the present
A century and a decade afterwards in AD 1750 the church was
rebuilt in the name of St.George, retaining the main portions
of Mar Bahanan Church. This church rose to glory and fame as
a centre of solace in the succeeding 250 years by the grace
of God and the blessings of St.Mary, St.Bahanan and St.George.
The church was rebuilt and consecrated in AD 2003 transforming
it into a composite shrine of three churches. The church of
St.George was retained and the verandas on either side of it
were replaced by a chapel in the name of St.Mary on the north
side and a chapel in the name of St.Bahanan on the south side.
It was a marvelous idea by which the St.Mary’s chapel
of 1557 and St.Bahanan’s church of 1640 were revived and
rebuilt on either side of St.George’s church of 1750.
The main altar of St.George church is in the
name of St.George and those on the left and right are in the
names of St.Thomas and St.Gregorious of Parumala respectively.
The main altar of St.Mary’s chapel is in the name of St.Mary
and those on the left and right are respectively are in the
names of Morth Shmooni and Mortha Yulithi.
The main altar of St.Bahanan’s chapel
is in the name of St.Bahanan and those on the left and right
are respectively in the names of St.Vattasseril Geevarghese
Dionysius and His Grace Kuriakose Mar Gregorious of Pampady.
Thus there is the presence and blessings of nine intercessors
in the new shrine. Devotees throng the shrine irrespective of
religion, caste and creed, to make their supplications before
St.George who never fails to respond.
Thousands visit the church throughout the year
and particularly during the feast of St.George, including the
10 days preceding and succeeding it.
The present shrine was declared as the "GEORGIAN
PILGRIM CENTRE OF THE EAST" by His Holiness Baselious
Didymus-I Catholicos of the East in the year AD 2007.
PUTHUPPALLY PERUNAL (THE FEAST OF ST.GEORGE)
"KODIYET" (FLAG HOISTING):-
Ten days before the feast two arecanut palm flag masts, one each
from Puthuppally and Ericadu hamlets are brought to Puthuppally
junction and; from there they are carried to the church in a ceremonial
procession by a large crowd of all hues with traditional orchestral
accompaniments. Both the flag masts are erected in front of the
church; the flags are blessed and hoisted by the priest and hailed
by the large crowd present. The next ten days are very hectic.
"Chendamelam" (traditional orchestral drum beatings), "Kathinaveddi"
(native cannon shots) at the foot of the flag masts, daily morning
Qurbana (the holy mass), "Sandhyanamaskaram" (evening prayers)
in the church and; in between, other allied programs in the church
premise are the salient feature during these days.
"VIRAKIDEEL" (FIRE WOOD COLLECTION & PROCESSION),
"VECHOOT" (MASS LUNCHEON) AND "NERCHA VILAMPU" (OFFERINGS DISTRIBUTION)
Thousands participate in the main feast on 7th May. After the
holy mass, it is customary to provide meals to the devotees (Vechoot).
Devotees bring children on this day for their first rice feed
at the hands of priests (Adya choroonu). After "Raza" (cermonial
procession) in the afternoon "Nercha Vilampu" (rice flour bread
and chicken distribution) is done. As per age old practice devotees
bring live fowls as offerings particularly during this feast.
Chicken is prepared out of the same and served along with the
appam brought as offerings by the devotees.
Fire wood for preparation of the above items is offered and collected
from Puthuppally and Ericadu hamlets and brought in ceremonial
procession to the church exactly in the same way as the flag masts
are brought. This is known as "Virakideel". The cooking starts
in the early hours of the main feast day.
"RAZA" (CEREMONIAL PROCESSION)
The gold cross is taken out and after traditional prayers and
rites; it is placed on the main altar after holy mass on 6th May.
On the same day evening processions from the "Kurisin Thotty"
(Cross Towers) at Kochalummoodu and Parackal Kadavu proceed towards
Puthuppally church and reach there at about 8:00 PM. From there
a larger procession of devotees carrying Wooden cross, Gold cross,
Silver crosses, Muthukudas (Artistic umbrellas), Flags, Lit up
candles etc with traditional orchestral accompaniments is taken
out. The procession passes through Kuttenchirapaddy, Nilackal
pallypaddy and reaches the "Kurisin Thotty" at Puthuppally junction,
where prayers are held, reaches Puthuppally pally at about 09:00
PM and ends up with prayers and blessing. It is worthwhile to
mention that during the above procession, the people of all hues
and creeds enroute greet it in front of their houses / shops with
lit up wick lamps and candles before an intercessor’s photo
and; they are blessed by the main priest in the procession.
"DEEPA KAZHCHA" (LIGHT DISPLAY) AND "KARIMARUNNU PRAYOGAM"
The paddy fields in front of the church are usually flooded in
May. Thousands of wick lamps are lit up and floated in coconut
shells in these waters on the evening of May 6th before the processions.
It is like a galaxy on water.
The feast ends up with display of fire works soon after the procession.
The fire work is a grand display of light, sound and colour enjoyed
by thousands of devotees.