The charm of tradition: Touring a famous Christian tharavadu

The charm of tradition: Touring a famous Christian tharavadu

Most of us love to experience the old-world charm of a tharavadu, given a choice. There are countless ancient 'illams' and 'tharavadu’s' in Kerala that talk about our history. Such trysts with ancient architecture and history are a subject of fascination for most tourists.

Edakkalathur Chengalai is a Christian tharavadu placed at Thrissur’s Mullassery. Chengalai is the name of the place. Edakkalathur Chengalai is also associated with the family name. This is a 100-year-old house built by Chengalai Pavu. It is a large structure with two floors and an attic.

The Edakkalathur Chengalai family who were landowners owned large, archaic homes. These families are members of Mullassery Good Shepherd Parish. It is said that during earlier days, these families lived around the Mullassery Church. Over time, many lands were transferred, and many old houses have been recently demolished. They also own paddy fields in Manalpuzha and Madhukkara.

Trying to find newness in old
There are verandas on the lower and upper floors. If you come up through the veranda, first you will reach a corridor. The stairs to the upper floor are to the right of the hallway. These stairs also have doors. Enter the walkway from the hallway. It is usually inside the hallway that the important decisions are made, and prayers are conducted. The interior of the walkway is called 'Nadelakam.’

If you step inside, you can see a section of the wall carved out. Idols have been placed inside the carving. These kinds of religious adornments are found in old houses. This glass case is delicately carved in stone. In some places, such cases may even have a small door. The Thirukudumba form is adorned with handicrafts and placed above the entrance.

Such carvings and paintings are a sight to behold only in old houses. They have still preserved the wedding gift of their parents- a document sent from Rome.

More sights of the tharavadu
The tharavadu is made of cut stone and plaster. Only the front portion has been painted. Both sides of the upper floor and the back remain unpolished. The beauty of the boulder can be seen here. One of the three rooms on the top floor has a washroom and a groove. The granite groove can be seen from the outside. Pilappan, son of Edakkalathur Pavu, his wife Mathilakam Olappuram Elizabeth and their ten children lived here.

Pilappan was a perfect Gandhian. He was also a legal scholar. Many locals used to come here for his legal advice. Elizabeth's brother David, of the Mathilakam Olappuram family was a great badminton player. Saina Teacher, the wife of Rufus Master, the ninth of ten children of Pilappan and Elizabeth, is now looking after the house.

Rufus has made his mark in the field of education and sports. He has been offering children free ball badminton coaching for forty years at the Mullassery High School ground near the Parambanthalli temple. Many children have studied here and performed well at the national level and in clubs.

It is one of the best badminton training institutes in Thrissur. In 1985, while studying for BA in History at Guruvayoor Sri Krishna College, Rufus Master was also a Calicut University player. Rufus has served as the Secretary of the Guruvayoor-based Ball Badminton Association and the nominee of the Thrissur District Sports Council.

Today, every room in the Edakkalathur Chengalai family is a classroom. Rufus Master and his wife Saina Teacher take tuition for many children here. Edakkalathur Chengalai Tharavadu is one of the traditional Christian houses in Mullassery which is still flourishing.  

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