Parumala Perunnal 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

Parumala Perunnal is an annual Christian feast held to commemorate the death anniversary of Saint Gregorios of Parumala, the first canonised saint of the Malankara Orthodox Church of Kerala. The mortal remains of the Bishop are interred in the church.

The glorious festival celebrated in Kerala is one of the most famous celebrations held in the evergreen state of India. Parumala Perunnal Kerala is a festival where life in Kerala stops and it is celebrated in the Parumala town of Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. 

Devotees from all parts of the State swarm the grounds of the church to celebrate this great day. The festival day is marked by special services and a well-attended colourful procession. On the ormaperunnal (commemoration day), special prayers are offered at the church.

Event Parumala Perunnal
Date November 2, 2022
Day Wednesday
Significance The day commemorate the death anniversary of Saint Gregorios of Parumala.
Observed by India

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Parumala Perunnal History: 

St. Gregorios was born in Pallathetta family in the Chathuruthy house at Mulamthuruthy near Cochin, India on 15 June 1848. His parents were Mathai Gheevarghese and Mariam Gheevarghese. He was called by the name ‘Kochaippora’ and was given the baptismal name ‘Geevarghese’. Geevarghese had two brothers and two sisters; Kurian, Eli, Mariam and Varkey. Geevarghese was the youngest. Geevarghese’s mother died when he was a small boy and since then he was under the loving care of his elder sister Mariam. 

At a very young age, Geevarghese had shown interest in spiritual matters. His devotion, humility and above all, his ability to sing the traditional Syriac hymns beautifully and perfectly, came to the notice of his uncle Malpan Geevarghese. The uncle wanted to raise his nephew to be a priest and his family members, who knew Geevarghese’s character too agreed to the Malpan’s request.

The village of Parumala is a small stretch of land on the shores of the river Pampa. Before the church was built, the Malankara Metropolitan, Joseph Mar Dionysius wanted to establish a seminary in the area. In 1885’s a two-acre plot of land was donated by Arikupurathu Mathen Karnavar to Mar Dionysius. With the land there was already a temporary church built by the Arukupurathu Family. Mar Gregorios decided to rebuild the temporary church into a more befitting and beautiful church. 

This church now contains the tomb of the first canonized Christian saint from India, Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala, who died on 2 November 1902 at the age of 54. In 1947 he was declared a saint of the Church by the Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan Baselios Geevarghese II. Belief in his saintly qualities caused it to become a pilgrimage center for Christians and Hindus seeking his intercession. 

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Parumala Perunnal Significance: 

Parumala Perunnal in the state of Kerala is celebrated at Parumala St. Peter’s & St. Paul’s Orthodox Church, Parumala, Thiruvalla, and Pathanamthitta. Parumala Perunnal is a well-recognized form of the local festival, which is held around the time of the summer season. However, it is seen that the tentative date is from April to May. The Parumala Perunnal, Kerala, ritualistically held primarily on November 2nd, is splendid. It is considered a real visual treat for the tourists who flock to the spots during the festive season.

The annual Perunnal, or feast at the Parumala Church in Thiruvalla, is arranged as a compulsion to commemorate the death anniversary of Bishop Mar Gregorios Metropolitan, the declared saint of the Malankara Orthodox Church of Kerala. The bishop is interred in the church on this auspicious occasion. Special prayers are offered during the Orma Perunnal Day, or commemorative feast, and rituals are performed.

Orma Perunnal is the commemoration day and it falls on the last day of the celebrations. Special rituals are performed by locals and many special prayers are offered seeking blessings from the deity. The second day is the grand celebration of Parumala Perunnal. On this day, they usually offer Holy Qurbana, one of the religious prayers that continues uninterruptedly for 3 hours. The last day of procession starts sharp at 3 pm every year, where activities like candle lighting also take place. 

The specialty of Parumala Perunnal is that during the whole festival everything is based on devotion. Unlike other festivals, no cultural progammes are organised on the occasion. Another specialty of the festival is that it doesn’t attract the Christian community only, but people from all religions and communities from all over the state of Kerala participate in the festival and thus it also comes as a festival of unity and peace overall this festival adds more charm to the festivities of the Kerala state. 

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Parumala Perunnal Celebrations: 

This festival is mainly celebrated to commemorate the death anniversary of Bishop Mar Gregorios Metropolitan who was one of the renowned saints of his times. People revered him a lot and confided in him for genuine life advice. A lot of rituals are observed on the day of Parumala Perunnal which includes people offering their prayers and celebrating with lip-smacking delicacies, which is one of the major highlights of this festival.

There is also a ceremonial procession through the town, attended by devotees from all over the state. All prayers and related rituals are conducted here with great enthusiasm. Devotees from all parts of the state attend the festival. Like all other festivals typical of Kerala, the church grounds swarm with vendors and stalls, selling all kinds of things from food to utensils to jewelry. In addition, there are cultural performances every evening. Parumala Perunnal Kerala is one such festival that is a real crowd-puller in the state.

During the festival, the statue of Parumala Therumeni is carried out in a large public procession that starts from the church and moves to the east side of the church. The return of the procession to the church is an important ritual and is significant to the locals for religious harmony. Many rituals and special prayers are conducted during this festival that attracts devotees from all over the state. There is also flag-hoisting ceremony which takes place annually during the celebrations of this festival. 

Most Searched FAQs on Parumala Perunnal: 

1. When is Parumala Perunnal celebrated? 

Parumala Perunnal is annually celebrated on 2nd November in Kerala, India. 

2. What does Parumala Perunnal commemorates? 

It is an annual feast held to commemorate the death anniversary of Bishop Mar Gregorios Metropolitan, the first canonised saint of the Malankara Orthodox Church of Kerala.

3. How many people practice Christianity in Kerala? 

About 18% of the total Kerala’s population practices Christianity. 

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