Sunday, December 6, 2009
Maliyekal also spelt as Maliyekkal and Malieakal, (as it is a Malayalam surname, when translated into English the spellings differ) is said to be one of the first families that believed in Lord Jesus Christ and received Holy Baptism in the Indian sub-continent during 52-53 A.D by St. Thomas (locally called as Mar Thoma Sleeha) , the very Apostle of Lord Jesus Christ.
According to Thomma Parvom, (the written document by Thomas Ramban in 1601 which is in use at the Church at Niranam. This Thomas Rambans is one of the descendatns of the first Brahmin convert to Christianity christened as Maliyekal Ramban Thomas by Apostle St. Thomas. The story was handed down from generation to generations until it was written down in 1601) the first visit of St. Thomas in Kerala lasted only for a few days. During this period the main converts were the Jews who were settled in Kerala those days. (There was a large Jewish community in Kochi at that time). It is mentioned that during his second visit, more than three thousand people received Baptism and became Christians. (The first local convert was a Brahmin, Vishnu Namboodiri Maliyakal, who became Thomas Maliyakal and ordained as a Ramban (Priest).) Among the 3000 were some 75 Brahmin families along with Jews, Kshatriyas (Rajahs), Nairs and Chettiars. One Jewish prince by name Kepha (Peter) who got converted, was later ordained as bishop when St. Thomas left for spreading the Gospel (Good News) to the other parts of Kerala and India. The seven and a half original churches (ezhara pallikal) started by St. Thomas were located at Malayattur (near Aluva), Palayur (Trichur), Koovakkayal (near Paravur), Kokkamangalam (South Pallipuram), Kollam, Niranam, Nilackel (in Pathanamthitta district) and in Tranvancore.
Kearlite Syrian Christians today trace their heritage from the Apostle Thomas. They belong to various denominations such as the Syro- Malabar Catholic Church, Syro- Malankara Catholic , Syrian Orthodox Church, Jabobite Syrian Church, Mar Thoma Church, St.Thomas Evangelical Church, Church of South India, and some other independent Churches.
In some earlier (1950s) Malayalam translations of the Holy Bible too, it is mentioned in the preface that one Maliyekal Vishnu Namboothiri of one of the then prominent illams (high caste families) in Kerala accepted Lord Jesus and received the Sacrament of baptism from Thoma Sleeha (St.Thomas) and was christened as Maliyekal Thoma and became a faithful disciple of St. Thomas and assisted him in his missionary activities.