Sunday, August 9, 2015

Our Visit to Kudil and St. Gregorios Chapel of Transfiguration in Peermedu

My wife, Lissy, and I had a blessed opportunity to visit the St. Gregorios Chapel of Transfiguration in Peermedu on 5th August 2015. We parked near the Taluk hospital in Peermedu and Fr. Sanjay Geevarghese kindly gave us a jeep ride to the chapel. It was a very narrow and rough road over one kilometer. He parked the jeep at Moonnaattumukku, and then we climbed up a hilly path.

The path to the chapel reminded us of what Jesus said about the
narrow and hard one that leads to life. And just like Jesus said, there are only a few who find it. We couldn't have found the place without the help of Fr. Sanjay. Later when I mentioned this to Fr. K.M.George, he said with a smile that it was intentionally done so. They intended this place to be found only by those few who have the will to seek, and have sufficient commitment.

At the very top of the hill was a simple one-room hut and the St. Gregorios Transfiguration chapel, made of bamboo and grass. Fr. George explained that instead of saying bamboo and grass, we may say that the chapel is made of grass, for bamboo also belongs to the class of grass! 

We had been warned to be prepared for the blood-sucking leeches. They sense our heat and jump on to our feet. Lissy took precaution by applying some detol mixed with oil on her feet, and no leeches touched her. I didn't apply any detol on my feet hoping that they might not get to my feet passing my shoes and socks. However, on examining my legs after getting to the Kudil, I found two of them sucking my blood right above the socks. They jumped on to my shoes and crept up slowly. The funny thing is that I didn't feel any sensation at all. Even a mosquito bite gives us a little pain, but this creature has the amazing ability to suck our blood without our knowing it. I poured a drop of detol on each of them, and they rolled down to the floor, and the bleeding stopped in a minute. The leeches are present there only during the rainy season. When it gets warm, they go underground. 

The chapel, semicircular in shape, is made with a living mango tree at its pivotal point. A huge boulder is used as the altar (thronos). A stone lamp (kalvilakku) is erected at the entrance of the chapel. Three years before the  chapel was erected, they had built a rustic hut with one room, a kitchen platform, and a verandah. The verandah had been used for  fellowship gatherings and the liturgy. The entire facility is at present called the Kudil  or the hut, which is literally so.

Kudil-Hermitage is the fruit of the vision of a  
group of friends who had created a fellowship called Saha Dharma Sangha some 10 years ago. They bought one  acre of land, and eventually built a hut.  As in ancient times, they found a mountaintop as the ideal place to experience the Divine. Far away from the noisy world, this was chosen as an ideal place for quiet meditation and sharing . Here you feel one with God; you also feel one with the nature that surrounds you. The trees that touch the sky, the shrubs that dance as a breeze flows around them, and the birds that sing melodies -- you are expected to feel homesick for  the Garden of Eden. Today with our modern comforts, and with various facilities offered by modern technology, we have been moving farther away from the joy of nature. This Kudil in Peermedu is a symbol of our earnest desire to leave behind our meaningless mechanical life, and return to the simplicity, sharing,  and meaningfulness symbolized by the Garden of Eden.    

Together with the initial team of Fr George,  Fr. Bijesh Philip, Fr. Thomas Varghese and Mr. Mathew Panayil, who started  the open fellowship of Saha Dharma Sangha  some 10 years ago, there are Fr Sanjay, Mr. George Skaria, Dr George Cherian,  and a number of other committed friends who share and contribute to the vision of Kudil and the Transfiguration chapel in the name of St Gregorios of Pampady.

In September 2014, The Catholicos, Marthoma Baselius Paulose II, visited this place out of his
personal interest, stayed there for two days, slept in the  very rustic  hut without any modern facility  and celebrated the first Holy Qurbana in the chapel. During the  Great  Lent in March 2015  Metropolitan Mar Theodocios of Idukki  led the  Lenten retreat of the priests of his Diocese at  the Kudil. Nature lovers and writers like  the well-known  wild photographer N.A. Nazeer have also stayed  at the Kudil.

Fr. Sanjay Geevarghese, who lives in the area, had supervised all the eco-friendly construction and now takes care of the Kudil and chapel like a local guardian. 
 
It was on August 5th that we visited this place. We started from Kottayam at 8:00 am and we reached there at about 10:30 am. There were a few young priests as well as a few engineering students. At about 11:30, we met in the chapel, where Fr. George led a meditative conversation. He talked about how we can gain the perspective and the insight to view nature as Scripture. It was followed by a lively discussion on this topic, and then we had the noon prayer. Then we all went to the nearby hut, and we had lunch there. Food was brought from outside, but we were told that usually very simple food is cooked there itself by the participants in the sessions.


We had to leave in the afternoon though others stayed on to continue the reflections, and to celebrate the  Eucharistic liturgy the next day. Fr. Sanjay took us back to the main road. He told us that it would be easier to get there once the rainy season is over.

It would be good to create some simple facility attached to Kudil for visitors who want to stay for 2 or 3 days for prayer, meditation and walking in the lap of nature though that, of course, might require assistance from friends and well wishers. 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Learn Basic Malayalam in Six Weeks

"Learn Basic Malayalam in Six Weeks" is a guide to learn Malayalam as a second language for the speakers of English. Malayalam is the language of Kerala, South India.

The material is presented as 42 lessons with worksheets and answer key. The authors, who were language teachers in Africa and in the US for over 25 years, have made use of contemporary knowledge of Linguistics and easy-to-follow and effective teaching methods. The sound system and the grammatical system of Malayalam are explained clearly in relation to those in English.

This guide may be used by all those who want to learn Malayalam, such as the children of Keralites who live abroad, and those who come to Kerala for studies and for employment.

The authors are Lissy John and John Kunnathu.

Lissy John is an educator and a writer. She has had her higher studies in Language, Linguistics, and Literature.

John D. Kunnathu is an educator and an author of several books. He has had his higher studies in Language, Linguistics, Literature, and Instructional Technology. After being educators in Africa and in the US for over twenty-five years, both are now settled in Kerala.

The book is published by Createspace, an Amazon company. It has about 145 pages.

In USA, a copy may be ordered from https://www.createspace.com/5574506

In India, a copy may be ordered from http://pothi.com/…/lissy-john-john-kunnathu-learn-basic-mal…