Me @ Manjinikkara Pilgrimage 2008

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February 19th 2008
Published: February 19th 2008
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12 Feb 2008

My wife was persuading me for last 6 years to do the Manjinikkara Pilgrimage. Each time I found some reason to postpone it. This year finally we decided to do it. Every year thousands of devotees walk from Ernakulam, Kottayam, Kothamangalam to the Manjinikkara Dayra during the second week Feb to pray and celebrate at the anniversary of the Bhava( Ignathiyoos Elias 111- The Patriacah who visited Malankara in 1930's).

Manjinikkara is situated in Omallor panchyath of Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. We wanted to join the pilgrimage procession at Peruva, Kottayam (where my wife's house is situated) and decided to walk almost 100 kms and reach the church. I tried to convince her we will walk from Puthuppally where my home is situated by saving 40 kms. But she was adamant of walking from Peruva.

The procession started from various parts of Ernakulam and reached Peruva on 12th Feb 2008 evening. We joined the procession at the Peruva church where we attended the evening prayer. We started walking immediately after evening prayer around 7:45 PM. The actual procession is supposed to start only 9 PM. I was little skeptical of walking before actual procession because safety reasons as we are walking in the night. But to my surprise there were thousands already on the road walking. I never had an opportunity in my life to see this procession before. This is mainly because I was born and brought up by parents belonging Orthodox church which is warring faction of Jacobite church which conducts this pilgrimage.

My wife also belongs Orthodox church but her father is named after the saint of Manjinikkara. In my family half of my cousins are in orthodox and rest are in the Jacobite church. I studied Sunday school of orthodox church and also tried to read a lot about the fight from both angles. I felt it is personnel egos of the leaders, family feuds and neo rich families who wants to controls the church are root cause of the fight. All other reason which floats around are just to give some theatrical justification for what they are doing. As most of devotees belonging to these warring factions we also cross visit all the churches, pray to saints etc. So we walking to Manjinikkara was nothing much abnormal.

We walked pretty fast initially and reached Kaduthurthy (8 KMS) by 9:30 PM. Oranges, coffee etc are given to us on the road side. We got friend named Ben from Hyderabad during this section of walk. He had walked with us till Neelimangalam next morning. After that we never met him again. After a 15 min rest at Kaduthurthy we started again. The road section contains uphills and downhills. The legs started paining and body is getting tired. The pace at which we are walking is decreased a little bit. But we kept on walking to reach Kurupunthara. We found a catholic church at Kurupunthara Junction and sat in front of the church. The legs were paining and paining. We lied on in front of church. It was 11:15 PM when we reached there.

13 Feb 2008

We took rest for 15 mins and had a Lime juice from a nearby shop and started. Our next stop is Kanakkari UP school where some rest is officially arranged. The legs were paining and paining we sat on the road after a km or two. We didn't carry water at it was night and no option of getting water. Our friend Ben had an orange. We three shared the orange. It was by 1:30 AM next day we reached Kanakkari. We went and lied on the school ground where the rest was arranged. I was lying down on earth and looking at sky. The sky was cloudy. My body was tired and legs are paining. That nights planned target was to reach Neelimanagalm church by dawn. Neelimangalam is at least 10 kms away from where we are. I prayed from my heart "Bhavayee Pray to God to have mercy upon us".

While we were taking rest we saw a lady around 50 years old had Low BP and transported to hospital by Ambulance. We planned to start by 2 AM from there. But it started raining and we had ran for shelter under roof of small shop(kada thinna). It was very crowded there and find a little place and sat on floor. We both sat on the floor and slept. It was another hour when the rain stopped and we started walking immediately after the rain was stopped. While we were waiting for the rain to go off the actual procession also reached this place and they were taking rest till 4:30 am.

It was difficult to keep a foot since the legs were paining. Small sleep we had increased the pain. We have another 10 kms remaining before the next resting point. We started crawling. Each Kilometer was talking double the time( 30 mins). We reached Ettumanoor where procession from the Kothamangalam side joined us. Just before Ettumanoor Junction we got "Pappada Bolly" and coffee. It was too nice. Slowly and Slowly we reached the Ettumanoor junction and lied in front shop at the road side. I couldn't believe that we were lying on road side like beggars. We were so tired and we didn't had any option.

Next 4-5 kms to Neelimangalam was more difficult. After every KM we sat for 10 mins. But the good part was there were lot food given at the road side in this scetion of walk. We some how reached in front of the Thellakam church. I am in a state, where I am not able to keep another foot. My left leg ankle have decent swelling and right leg skin under fingers is bulged out. It took another 1 hour to reach the Junction where Medical college joins MC Road. There was cross which had the holy remains of the saint of Manjinikkara. We prayed at the cross and slowly reached Samkranthi Junction where Neelimangalam church is situated. It is 13th Morning 6 AM. Rest and food are arranged for the pilgrims at the church. We decided to go to my sister place at Kottayam to take rest instead of church. We got into an auto and went to my sis home where hot water, warm bed and coffee was waiting for us. We had quick bath and went to sleep. It was 2 PM in the afternoon when we got up.

The actual procession is also taking rest at the Neelimagalam church and moves to the Shimhasna church, Kottayam same day evening. From Kottayam the procession starts on 14h morning. So we decided to join the procession again on 14h morning at Kottayam. When I got up in the after noon the swelling and pain was reduced. We had walked only 40 KMS. We have walk another 60 KMS ahead to reach the destination. I began to doubt myself if I can do it. The legs are really paining.... I could see lot of old people in 60 and 70 walking. Was wondering how good health they are having... I felt ashamed about myself for feeling very week.

14 Feb 2008

14th Morning we started at 5:30 AM from Kottayam. When we reached the road to we could see thousands walking already although the official procession is supposed to start 6:30 or 7 AM. One day rest had relived us lot from pain. We were walking fast. We got oranges , neyyappam , coffee, banana on the road side. Near chingvanam we had given the oranges to some kids on the road side. We were also invited to have breakfast at couple of homes near chingavanam. But didn't accept as we were full of energy and walked. We reached Chingvanam Dayara church around 8 am. "Kanji" was arranged to the pilgrims at the church.

We had Kanji and hit the road by 8:20 am. The official procession is suppose to start in afternoon from here. But people were already on the road. Sun is getting hot and hot. We went through Kurichy and joined a gang of priest and nuns who was singing and walking. After Thurthy we took a break for 5 mins and had Lime Juice from road side shop. The juice so bad we felt like vomiting.

We started walking again and sun was so hot. No trees on road side and legs started paining. We entered a house near vazhapalli to use the bathroom. The person at that house asked are we newly married couples? He was so surprised when we told we have 4 year old doughter. The night before Ben who walked with till Neelimangalam asked us are we students? And next day again some one asked are we brother and sister? We felt very happy at these questions as looking like in 20's we are in 30's...

When we reached Changanacherry it was around 10:30 AM. We sat at the roadside on floor in front of a shop near SB College. The town is buzzling and we were so tired not even bothered at people staring at us. We found a hotel and had some food. Soon we are walking towards Thiruvalla. The legs are paining and we are tired. We had walked 18 kms from morning. We stopped at a place after Perunna. They were giving biscuits, coffee and hot water etc for the pilgrims. We took a 15 mins break and started again. We were slow in walking and sun is getting hot and hot. We went through Idininjillam. I was persuading my wife to take a bus and go to Thiruvalla. She was not listening to me as usual. Slowly we reached near Pushpagiri Medical college. Juice was arranged by a family there. We tried to have it. It was very sweet and we didn't couuldn't have it. We walked little more had lime juice from a nearby shop. We walked further and reached Perumthurthy by 1 PM. Thriuvalla is still 3-4 KMS away. We wanted to drink buttermilk. We couldn't find a shop where we could get it. We walked again. There were kids of 10 years old walking happily. We felt very jealous of them!!!

It was 1:30 PM and we might have walked another KM again and we were so tired. Thrivalla is still 2 KM away. We took an auto and went to Thrivalla. The Shimashana church is opposite to the private bus stand. We got down and went to church. They were distributing lunch. We got 2 packets and went to search for place to lie down. Although the church was small and crowded we could find a place under fan easily. We both lied and slept there. We woke up around 2:30, had the lunch and slept again. Some one had woken us by 3:30 and given Neyyapam. We had the same and took rest till 4 PM. We felt little fresh after the rest and thought of hitting the road. The church is more crowded now and more people coming and taking rest. Although this church is very small they had very good arrangements for pilgrims including temp bathrooms. It is really helpful.

We were back in road by 4PM. The legs were less paining and we felt little fresh. We met with gang of guys who was walking Ernakulam. We bought some oranges from road side and shared with them also. We might have walked for another 30 mins. It started raining. We ran for some shelter in front of house on road side. We stood there for 45 mins for the rain to finish. They guys gang found a tree with lot of "Champanga" and plucked a few. They had shared it with us also. One of them was demonstrating how to charge a Nokia phone battery using 100 Rs note. It was very interesting.

Around 5:15 we were back in road walking. We went through Kaviyooor, Ervaiparoor etc.. It was getting dark. We were also feeling hungry. We didn't got any food on the way other than an orange distributed from Red Wagoner car. We reached Kumbanad. We want to take some rest. We could find the Bible college of the Pentecostal church. We lied down on the ground of the college. I looked at my left leg ankle. There is decent size swelling on it. We lied down there for 30 mins and hit the road again. We reached Kumbanad town. We found hotel where we had some food. We are recharged after food to walk again. The plan is to reach Chettimukku (Just before Kozencherry) and take rest till next day morning.

We are tired and we couldn't walk. It was pretty dark. Just before pullad we saw a person givng lime juice. He had arranged some chairs for rest. We ran to chairs and took rest. The person who arranged was belonging to marthoma church. But he had lot of stories say about the pilgrimages.

We saw a priest and gang walking. We joined them. I was limping and running to move with the gang. The bag on my back was heavy. Walked and walked and walked. By 11 pm we reached chettimukku. There was no place to sit. All the places like road side, Shops were completely filled. We wanted to lied down some where. We saw board called St. Mary's orthodox church Maramon. We thought going to church sleep in front of it. We stepped into that road which leads to church. The road was dark and couldn't see anything. We got scared. We saw an uncle and aunty walking. We asked them are they going to church for sleeping. We followed them. We saw the orthodox church. The gate was opened. But there was no light in the compound and church was locked. The uncle told there is a Marthoma church nearby. We went to church. It was on top of a hill. We climbed the hill and reached the church. Although the church was not opened the compound gate was open and there was lights also. We got inside the compound and slept in cemented ground. It was very cold. We didn’t had any blanket. The uncle and aunt shared their blanket with us. We slept and slept...

15 Feb 2008

We were wokenup by the loud music of official procession. We looked at the watch. It was almost 5 AM. We thanked to the uncle and aunty who shared blanket for us and started to walk. Since gate of the compound wall of the church was locked we had to jump gate to get out. Outside the gate people were distributing Kappa puzhukku and coffee. We had the food and went to river side. We got into a boat which took us other side of bank. We had to pay 3 Rs/ Per person for the boat charge. On the other side all the house varandhas and compounds were filled with people. People are sleeping in all available places.... We started walking slowly. We went through Aranmula and then to Elanthoor. On the way we got some Idly and sambar from a house. By 8:45 AM we reached Elanthoor. We saw procession from Manarkad area there. We walked for 10 kms in the morning. We took rest again at a road side and sun was getting hot. The church is till 8 KMS away.

I saw my in-laws in the car going to the church to pick us back. They were on the way church to pick us back. We called loud for them. They saw us and stopped the vehicle. Both of our legs were swelling and paining. We decided to get into the car. We got out 1 kms away from church and start walking again. Slowly and slowly we climbed the hill where the church is situated and reached the church!!! WOW!!!! We did it.

We went to tomb of the Bhava. Thanked god who had taken all way to there. Tears were coming out my eyes. There was neyyappam distributed. We got one. Another 15 mins we got into the car and started back. On the way back we visited Parumala, Putuppally and Manarcad churches.

It is great In my life I want to cherish for ever!!! Thank God for making it happen.


20th February 2008

Your Article added in
Dear Mr. Tiju Titus John, Your article is included in Thank you for sending the link to us
23rd February 2008

Manjanikkara Trip.
Hi Tiju, Today, I was in a bit uncomfortable state and being the lent season, I couldn't put myself to prayers and right doing. Guess, it was God who made me read your article and now am enlightened. As I was going through your message, my eyes have gone tearful.... Also, I felt was travelling with you guys..., in reality, you were lying somewhere close to me at Simhasana Church, Thiruvalla... Lord Be Praised. This year, it was my fifth time by walk to Manjanikkara..and first time with my WIFE, as we got married last year. My wife struggled a lot as it was her maiden trip...but God blessed us to reach Bawa's tomb successfully. Just to share one of my experiences: My wife was suffering from a hectic back pain..she couldn't stand for even 30mins. continuously...soon it starts paining badly. It was on since last several months. We consulted a good doc..went to a leading Ayurvedic doc., tried various means to get rid of it...but in vain. My wife carried all her pains throughout the way; I kept on telling her.... Juz' keep uttering "Antiochyaayude Adhipatiye Praarthikkename Njangalkaayi". And since I serve in the Holy Altar, I am very much particular in having pure mind, body & soul while I told her "Don't even think of getting on to a vehicle". No offense please! As soon as we were back from Manjanikkara, my wife says that her pain is gone... Till this moment, by God's grace her pain hasn't come back.. I tried pressing her back to see if there's pain.. just to know if she's throwing a lie.., but its not. We were so happy that once again felt like "What will I give back to God for Thy Blessings". However, if God willing, next year we would want to start our walk from my parish, Bes-Ania Church-Chelad. Well, God Bless You and Your Family... Please let us be in your prayers. In Peace, Paul
12th March 2008

Manjanikkara 2008
Dear Mr. Tiju, Good to see your post. I was trying to check the new website of Manjanikkara church and it brought me to your blog. Though I wanted to walk to Manjanikkara, for some reasons it did not materialize. I live at Pallom, and have seen a lot of people walking from 13th evening. I usually open the house gates by 06:30 or so and have seen the people on the road from then till about 10:30, after that it was in small groups. 2 of my daughters also joined me there. Around 08:15 or so, we have seen a large group of people, with a number of priests from Puthenkurisu, walking. I remember one priest came to our side and gave my young daughter some oranges and blessed her. Prior to this, few people have given oranges to my youngest, 2 year old. and It is likely that the Kids to whom you may have given the oranges could be my children. We were on the road from about 06:30 watching these pilgrims. There is a Kurisum thotty at Mariappally on the MC road after Nattakom Govt college, where usually some refreshments are served and then at Madonna marbles, where Mr. Shaji arranges the same and then at Pallom Buccanan School by our youth league, Mor Ignatius church, Pallom. We are located at Pallom,immediately after the State bank of travancore / Madonna marbles on the west side and the next time you walk, may call us. God bless you all. By the way, Would you share the know how on charging Nokia batteries using currency notes? John
15th March 2008

Writing in from Thiruvalla
Dear Tiju, I happened to read your blog while working on the web site of our church. I am the vicar of the Thiruvalla Simhasana Church, the church you slept in on the 14th of Feb, 2008. I must tell you that we feel honoured and blessed to offer whatever help to pilgrims like you and your wife, who are on their way to Manjinikara, every year. So forgive us if there were any short comings. With prayers and good wishes.
24th March 2008

Thanks a lot
Hello Accha Thanks a lot for the mail. But more to the rest and lunch arranged at church. Being a very small place with limited space the service provided by you and members of the church are just great. I will never forget in my life. May Great God bless you and all the members. I will remember you in my prayers for ever. Thanks once again. Tiju

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