Monuments destroyed in the name of renovation: historian
Lack of emphasis on preservation plagues the study of history of Kerala Christianity
“Number of old churches destroyed alarming”
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Prominent historian Istvan Perczel from Central European University, Hungary, has criticised the destruction of several Christian monuments by the members of the community itself in the name of renovation.
Delivering a lecture on ‘History of Kerala Christianity: Documents, monuments and methodological challenges’ organised by the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) in the capital on Monday, Prof. Istvan Perczel said lack of emphasis on the preservation of documents and monuments was one of the major problems in understanding the unique history of Christianity in the State.
“We can learn, especially much on history, from the ancient monuments and inscriptions. However, in Kerala we witness an incredible process of the communities themselves destroying their own patrimony. The number of old churches and buildings destroyed without any trace or with little trace left just in the last years is alarming.”
“In fact, our source material, not to say a patrimony which belongs first to the St. Thomas Christian community, second to Kerala and India, and third to the whole world, is all set to disappear before our own sight. This is a frightful process to observe,” he said
Showing some pictures of demolition of an old Portuguese-era church in Angamaly, Prof Istvan Perczel said a huge concrete building had been erected in the place of that monument.
According to him, Christianity that developed on Indian soil was in intense contact with the West Asian regions such as Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine in its early and later history, but came into intense contact with the Europeans only in the 16th century.
“However, this part of Indian history has been somehow hijacked by the Europeans, who always considered the Christians as belonging to them," he said.
So for European scholars, the Indian Christians were particularly interesting, but always from an European point of view.
The Portuguese were upset seeing that the Christians they found here were not following faithfully the decisions of the Council of Trent, that is the great Council of Counter-Reformation, held in 1545-1563,” he said.
Gabriel Mar Gregorios, Ninan Koshy, K.N. Panikkar and P.J. Cherian were among those who spoke on the occasion.