1. St. Stephen’s Day
In the initial days of this church onwards St. Stephen’s Day is celebrated on January 20,21, 22 & 23 (Malayalam Month Makaram 6,7,8,9).Compared to the other churches in Malankara , different customs are practiced here. One among them is the three- day long possession, which covers kilometers and kilometers to deliver the blessings . In this occasion all people , irrespective of caste or creed take part in the possession. This possession has become a must -see, colorful and elegant, filled with blessings.
In the course of past 175years , this church had to face many hardships. Many non-Christians who were the prime witness, revealed the fact: when the church came to a ruined state the believers were put into difficulty. Due to the effort of all the Kattanam population , that too irrespective of religion, caste ,offered helping hands for reconstructing the church and bloomed into Kattanam Valiyapally. The celebrations are analogous to the Hindu culture because from the time St. Marthoma Christians were in the prior category. Now also, even the time have passed but still all the celebrations, traditions, customs remain unaltered.
Those who have tired to ruin the name of this church have got their punishments. These celebrations has become a stage or platform where all the people gather for various functions like Chembeduppu , Deepakazhcha, etc. From the day of flag hoisting till the day, convention begins a possession in which all of them take part with lighted candles and reach the church finally. The motive behind this is to get rid of diseases etc.
On the first day of the possession, the Hindu family ‘Puthenvila’(who offered place to build our church) lights the pidivilakku (lamps lit on banana stem). Nowthis is has become the right of this family to light the lamps. This is a good example of oneness of religion and minds of people of Kattanam.
The ‘Chembeduppu’ festival is another auspicious moment. The rice offered by different people is given as a big feast to all the people coming over there. All the rich and poor get satisfied here.
Many believers have got rid of diseases by getting the blessings of St: Stephen. For this, people offer ghee, coconut oil, beaded umbrellas, flags, rice, candles etc. and receive various positive experiences.
St:Stephens day celebrations starts with the glories and holy flag hoisting ceremony. The flags offered by non-Christians are blessed by the priest in Altar early morning. After the holy mass, a possession along with traditional bands takes a round the church and then the possession moves out through the north main gate and passes through puthenvilla junction and there by reaches the church premises. Then the priest cites holy prayers in midst of all the people gathered over there and then hoists the flag.
From the day when the flag is hoisted till the convention begins, people from various places in the evening reach the church premises with lighted candles citing the prayer “God Bless Us…….”. In Malayalam, we call it ‘Vasantha Prarthana’. This unique way of preaching is found only in Kattanam St. Stephen’s Orthodox Church.
It believed who fulfilled his wishes donated a flag pole made up of gold. It is situated in the north west part of church. This exists as an honour to Kattanam Valiya palli.
Before the main ceremony their exists a five days of conventions comprising of spiritual oration. The orators taking part in the convention are versatile.
The important days of celebrations are Jan 20, 21, 22, 23. In these days rally comprising of band, chenda, melam, silver gold cross, beaded umbrellas, flags etc are there to make this rally colourful and royal. Whole people irrespective of caste take part in this auspicious occasion. This rally traverses kilometers and kilometers of distance where all people awaits for the blessings to come. Those who take part in this rally for consecutive three days will get their wishes fulfilled which were put forth before God.
This occasion shows the traditionalism of Christianity. The ‘chembeduppu’is an occasion where all the believers offer ‘rice’ and this rice is collected in a divine vessel made up of copper. At the last day of the celebration this rice is used to make a feast for whole people gathering. People who dress up in traditional Christian wears take this vessel and round the church 3 times and then carry the vessel full of rice to the kitchen.
The celebrations reach an end along by unhosting the flag. From the commencement of celebrations till winding up, thousands of people from many parts reach here and offer prayers to their forefathers who rest in peace in cemetery by lighting candles.
The believers from off places also reach here to offer prayers and light candles to their forefathers who were laid in the cemetery.
The non-Christians call St:Stephen ‘Palli Thamburan’. They believe that if they offer their prayers to Palli thamburan, they get rid of all the ill effects in harvest, nature, diseases. By praying they keep on receiving blessing for their families as well as the whole place itself.