Palayoor Mahadeva Temple
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Palayoor or Palayur is located near Chavakkad in Thrissur district and is 2km away from Guruvayoor. Palayoor Mahadeva Temple does not exist today. This temple was demolished by Christians and a Church was built in that place. Christians claims that this church was built by St. Thomas. The Christian story goes like this.
Palayoor was a sea port, there were lots of Jews who were traders. St. Thomas stayed with these traders and converted a lot of people to Christianity. In one of the Temple ponds he performed a miracle. By this "Experience" many Brahmins accepted Christianity while the other Brahmin families cursed the place and left saying that they will bathe their next bath at Vemmanadu(5 kms away from Palayoor). Even today the place is known as Sapa-kadu or Chavakadu which means The forest of curse. The unhappy Brahmins went to Vemmanadu and settled down there. The temple was then destructed and a new church was created. Saint Thomas founded 7-1/2 Churches, of which the Palayoor church was the first. The other 6-1/2 churches are: Kodungallore, Paravur, Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Chayal(Nilakkal), Korakkeni, Kollam and a half church-'Arappalli' at Thiruvankottu.
But Historians does not agree the Christian claim. Their views are summorized here.
The first church of Kerala was constructed in 849 CE at Quilon(Kollam). Then the Hindu King of Venadu, Ayyan Adikal Thiruvadikal had granted permission to the Christian merchants of Quilon to construct a church. This royal grant is known as Tharissappalli Copperplate Grant of 849 CE. This is the first valid/authentic document relating to the Christian history of India. (This church is one among the 8 churches.)
Until 1550 CE no reference pertaining to the construction or existence of a Christian church is available. There is not even a single comment about christianity among natives or brahmins in Kerala in Sanga literature of first millenium CE.
There was less than half-a-dozen Christian churches functioned all over Kerala until the sixteenth century. The subsequent centuries witnessed the rapid growth of church and Christianity in Kerala due to the coercive tactics of European colonial interests. But at present more than 1000 churches are claiming 1000 to 1900 years of existence.
This 'Seven and a half' concept is the replica of the ritual of the renowned Hindu temple at Ettumannoor where the main deity is Lord Shiva. The Christian church emerged as strong force in Kerala during the European period around this temple region. That is why the Christian faith on account of the importance and social recognition to the said temple incorporated the idea of seven and a half in their faith in the form of church.
The first organised temple destruction of Kerala took place at Palayoor in the 16th century under the stewardship of Francis Xavier, who was the architect of inquisition in Goa.
In 1952 CE, the native Catholic Church hierarchy approached the Papacy(Rome) for Pontifical approval to celebrate 1900th year of Thomas’s venture of proselytism of Kerala. Papacy instantaneously declined the humble request of the Kerala Catholics on the ground that the claim has no historicity.
The Malayattoor Church near Kalady in Ernakulam district was Shiva temple and it has no connection with St. Thomas. The revenue records of the old princely state of Travancore justify this fact.
Fr. Herman D'Souza, in In the Steps of St. Thomas, writes: "The Palayur temple deserted by the Brahmins as a result of St. Thomas's efforts, was turned into a church. Pieces of broken idols and remnants of the old temple were lying around the church till a short time ago. Two large tanks, one on the eastern side of the church and the other near the western gate, are tell-tale relics of the ancient glory of the Hindu temple." D'Souza was writing in 1983 and includes pictures of the old temple walls, well and tank in his book.
The Palayoor church authorities until the day of the collapse of the disputed structure at Ayodhya, kept a board in front of the church that read "the church is constructed by St. Thomas after demolishing a temple"(Now the board has been removed). Even Vatican(Papacy) is not ready to believe the story of the arrival of St. Thomas in Kerala; it is true that the demolition of the temple might have taken place only after the European occupation of this land.It is believed that the temple destruction was inaugurated by St. Francis Xavier in AD 1545. Broken pieces of idols, sculptures and remenants of the old temple were lying around the church till a short time ago. Two large tanks on the west and east gates of the church tells the ancient glory of the Mahadeva temple. The well and compound wall of the temple existed were destroyed recently. There is not a single Brahmin house, at present, in the Palayoor village. According to Kerala Brahmins Palayoor is the place where an elephant became a goat(Aana aadaakum idam). Here elephent points to the great Mahadeva temple and goat points to the church.
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