Preparations for 119th Maramon Convention meet begin
The Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association (MTEA) attached to Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, has launched preparations for Maramon Convention, a week-long annual spiritual retreat, to be held on the riverbed of Pampa at Maramon near Kozhencherry. Billed as Asia’s largest annual Christian congregation, the Maramon convention will be held from February 9 to 16.
Thomas Mar Themotheus Metropolitan, MTEA president, inaugurated the work on the large thatched shed (pandal) on the Pampa riverbed, traditional venue of the century-old convention, on Friday. Joseph Mar Thoma, Metropolitan, led the opening prayer.
Fr. Abraham P. Oommen, MTEA general secretary; P.P. Achenkunju, treasurer; K.K. Royson, Sajan Veloor, Binu V. Eapen, Aji Karimkuttickal, managing committee members; and Malethu Saraladevi, former MLA, were among those who attended the function. The pandal is expected to accommodate as many as one lakh people.
The Mar Thoma Metropolitan will inaugurate the meet on February 9. Philipose Mar Chrysostum, senior Metropolitan, will lead the opening worship, MTEA leaders said
Maramon is also famous as the birthplace of Palakkunneth Abraham Malpan, a 19th century leader of the Syrian Church of Malabar.
The Maramon Convention is a Christian convention held at Maramon, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India annually during the month of February on the vast sand-bed of the Pampa River next to the Kozhencherry Bridge. It is organized by the Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association, the missionary wing of the Mar Thoma Church.
The origin and growth of this annual get together for one week at a stretch can be traced to the great revival movement which gathered momentum along with the reformation in the ancient Syrian Church of Malabar under the pioneering leadership of Abraham Malpan. This brought about the resurgence of the ancient apostolic Church in Kerala founded by St. Thomas the Apostle of Jesus Christ, believed to be in AD 52.
The first convention was held for 10 days from March 8 to 17, 1895. The venue was the vast sand-bed of the Pampa River next to the Maramon church. The parishes in and around Maramon – Kozhencherry helped in making a very large panthal (tent) to accommodate about 10,000 people. The main speakers were David and Wordsworth. On an average 10,000 to 15,000 people attended these meetings. On the last day almost 25,000 attended. There were no proper roads during those days. So nearby houses accommodated the people from far away places. Some of them came in boats and used them as their shelter.
In addition to the Metropolitan and Episcopas of the church, distinguished world renowned speakers addressed this convention. Rev.Thomas Walker, England (1900–1912), Sadhu Sunder Singh, Punjab (1918), Dr. G.Sherwood Eddy, (1919) Dr. E. Stanley Jones, USA (1920–1968), Dr.Toyohiko Kagawa, Japan (1938), John R. Mott, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1946 and President of World Alliance of YMCAs., Dr. Bob Pierce, Founder and president of World Vision (1964 & 66), Astronaut Coln.James Irwin, who spent a few hours on the moon, (1985), Dr.John Haggai, founder president of Haggai Institute (1973), Bishop Donald Jacobs, Mennonite church (1974), Rev.Dr. Robert Runcie, Arch Bishop of Canterbury (1986), Rev.Dr. George Carey, Arch Bishop of Canterbury (1995), Dr. Samuel Kobia, WCC General Secretary (2007), Rev.Dr.A.B.Masalamani, Rev.Dr. Sam Kamalesen, and a host of others.
The Maramon Convention is pre-eminently an assembly of Christians who once a year come here for listening to the Word of God as read and expounded by leaders of Christian thought from all over India as well as abroad. Preaching and Bible study occupy the major part of the convention programme. In the morning there will be separate Bible study classes for Men, women, youth and children conducted by specially invited leaders. In the mornings and afternoons there are public meetings and in the evening, meetings for men. Four of the afternoon public meetings are for ‘’Social evils awareness. Mar Thoma Voluntary Evangelistic Association, Ladies sessions (Sevika Sangham) and Missionary Session. Though the choir leads the singing the whole gathering joins in singing. A hymn book with 101 hymns including 16 new ones are printed every year for the convention use. Everyday half an hour is spent for intercessory prayer. Also there are family gatherings, youth meetings and special gatherings after the afternoon session.
The 115th Maramon Convention was held from 14 to 21 February. On the opening day and on the last three days, the pandal (flat roof thatched by woven coconut leaves) that could accommodate almost 80,000 people overflowed and an equal number found accommodation under the tree shades on both sides of the river.
Two hundred thousand copies of Marmon Convention hymn book (in Malayalam and with transliterated) with 16 new hymns were distributed. A choir of 101 members led the hymns. Every meeting began with a singing session for 30 minutes.
The speakers included the Bishops of the Mar Thoma Church; Bishop Robert M Solomon, (Methodist Church, Singapore); Reverend Canon Tim Dakin, (General Secretary of Church Missionary Society, England), Rev. Martin Alphons (USA) and Rev. Vinod Victor, (Trivandrum, Kerala, India). Bishop Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom, Metropolitan of the Marthandom Diocese of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church addressed the Ecumenical Meeting and Bishop Sebastian Thekethecheril of the Latin Catholic Diocese of Vijayapuram addressed the Social Evils Awareness Meeting. Most Rev. Joris Vercammen, Archbishop of Utrecht, president of the Union of Utrecht (of Old Catholic Church), bishops from the Malabar Independent Syrian Church and bishops of Church of South India attended the meetings.
Maramon Convention 2011
The 116th Maramon Convention is scheduled to be held from 13 to 20 February. Main speakers expected are:
- The bishops of the Mar Thoma Church.
- Most Rev. Roger Herft,
- Anglican Archbishop of Perth,
- Australia. Prof. Nyameko Barney Pityana, a human rights lawyer,
- theologian in South Africa and an exponent of Black theology.
- Dr. R. Rajkumar.
- Rev. Peter Maiden.
- Dr. Ulf Gunnar Ekman.