'Kantheela' was administered to the Pampady Thirumeni, Metropolitan of Kottayam diocese, on Dec 8, 1962 by Catholicose designate Augen Mar Thimotheus Metropolitan, Mar Ivanios, Mar Asthanasius and Mar Kuriakose assisted by more than fifty priests in the presence of thousands of faithful church members. Mar Thimotheus Thirumeni offered Holy Qurbana at the dayara chapel in the morning. 'Kantheela' ceremony started around 2 p.m. Thirumeni, totally weak and ill lay on a wooden platform specially made and placed at the western courtyard of the chapel. Cross and lighted candles were placed at appropriate places. Chief priests and others in their ceremonial robes wee seated appropriately. Mar Thimotheus Thirumeni spoke about the relevance and need for 'Kantheela Susroosha' as much of its significance. Thirumeni dwelt especially on the significance of the (Susroosha) service in the case of a unique shepherd who tended his sheep in the most faithful and careful manner taking it upon himself as a God given responsibility. As has been pointed out be apostle James it is a holy sacrament meant to absolve one of sins as much as to relieve him of his ailment. In 'Kantheela' the patient is anointed in the name of Christ. In is an anointing ceremony in all details. It is a blessing to receive this sacrament. Thimotheus Thirumeni concluded by saying that since such a blessing was being showered on Mar Gregorious Thirumeni, God's beloved and chosen son. It was the duty and privilege for everyone present there to take part in the service with due respect and in prayer for Thirumeni's recovery.
Holy oil was anointed on every limb of Thirumeni at appropriate stages of the service which lasted full two hours. The prayers offered by all the Thirumeni's together, laying their hands on Pampady Thirumeni's head was indeed a moving experience. Then the remainder of the holy oil was put on each Thirumeni by another.
Catholicise designate Augen Mar Thimotheus Thriumeni, during the Holy Qurbana at Pampady dayara on 09th June, 1962 said: "We solemnised the 'Kantheela Susroosha' for Gregorios Thirumeni after Holy Qurbana yesterday. We consider it a big blessing. Even though physically present with us, Thirumeni is one who has left everything mortal, with his mind full of thoughts about heaven. There is none in our church like him. We all think about material things much more. But Thirumeni is fully prepared to go to Heaven. We consider it a real blessing that five Metropolitans and fifty achens could solemnise the function in the presence of thousands of believers. This Achen (Fr. P. C Yohannan) looks after him more than blood children would do for a father. Moreover there are a few young men who are prepared to do anything for Thirumeni here in the dayara".
A rigorous regimen punctuated by the daily, weekly or seasonal fasting in and out of seasons of lent, probably contributed to the loss of health to Thirumeni even before old age. He took little care of his bodily needs even when young. When asked to take a weekly oil bath he would reply, 'Why all this special care for this mud house?' his mother remembers.
Pampady Thirumeni, who departed us on 5th April, 1965
By March 1965 Thirumeni started showing the ill effects of ageing. He was progressively growing weak with frequent bouts of vomiting and hiccups. On March 11 Thirumeni was shifted to Mandiram hospital. One wonders how he adjusted to the hospital routine as he was very particular about dayara. People used to throng the hospital to visit Thirumeni. Since his condition showed no improvement he was taken back to the dayara on March 15. The same evening he was anointed (Thailabhisheka Susroosha) by Mathews Mar Athanasius Thirumeni. He was anointed once earlier, at his own insistence, by the Catholica Bava designate His Holiness Augen Bava I in December 1962 when his health was very poor. But he enjoyed fairly good health for two years since. All the same he was fully prepared for his homeward journey ever since. At the eastern end of the northern verandha of dayara pally he had a small room built and his "Kabar" prepared. He spent most of his day time reading or meditating in that room. He knew that it was resplendent beyond the dark veil of death. Like Paul, he believed that it was a gain for him to die. Day by day he longed to be with his Lord and Master Christ. But death wouldn't welcome him so soon. There was still room for further refinement through trial by fire. Most of the time he was on sick bed. Only rarely did he experience some relief.
Kabar Of Thirumeni at Pampady Dayara
Fr. P.A Kuriakose, Pezhamattom who was his nephew had the rare privilege to attend on Thirumeni during his last days. He had often been given charge of the dayara when Thirumeni was away on tour. Apart from him, P.C Yohannan his Secretary, P.C Iype Pallat who was a constant associate of Thirumeni for 37 years and Baby Kannukuzhy were attending on Thirumeni round the clock. "Pottanâ" who served him so devotedly for fifty odd years and Padinjarekara Mathai were by his bedside every time. Doctors and sisters found it a blessing attending to Thirumeni. During the last few days Mar Ivanios Thirumeni was always with him in the dayara.
By noon on April 4, Sunday his condition became critical. Doctors warned that there were only few hours left for him. Minutes ticked away into the night. Priests and laymen continued to pour out their hearts through the 'yama prardhanas' and prayers for the time of death. By 2 A.M . Mar Ivanios Thirumeni marked the cross on his forehead. By 2.35 his blessed soul flew away to eternal bliss leaving behind the mud house for which he never cared. The dayara church bell tolled informing all the faithful about the sad demise. The watch that Thirumeni had been using also stopped at 2.35 A.M.
Watch Of Thirumeni which stopped at the time of Thirumeni's Heavenly Abode
When the news spread over phone messages and the through the good offices of Manorama, all the Malankara churches joined in the death knell. Thousands queued up to have one last look at his mortal remains. By dawn, decked properly in all regalia he was seated on a chair looking west in the dayara church. All the robes that Thirumeni was dressed in, were presented just a few days back by a young disciple of his who adored him more than anyone else.
The mortal remains were removed to Pampady Valiya Pally in the night. After the funeral service in the church, Abraham Mar Clemis Thirumeni gave the funeral oration. The farewell solemnized in the 'madhbaha' was heart rending. The cortege started moving to the dayara at 8 A.M. It took hours for it to reach the dayara because it was thousands upon thousands who wanted to pay respects to their dear departed shepherd. Mar Baselius Augen Catholica Bava, helped by all other High Priests of the Church, solemnized the funeral function. Bava Thirumeni, unable to contain his grief, broke down.
His thirtieth day memorial prayer was held on May 1965 in a most befitting manner, because there were not many who had been nobler, simpler or more hospitable. About 30,000 people took part in the feast. Every bit of the required articles for the feast was sent as a thanks offering by some person or institution. People were fed, just like Thirumeni would have wished, sumptuously. They went back contented at his intercession.
Tuesday, 16 March 1965 'Do everything properly and well. Don't just pretend that you know everything. Do things intelligently. All this is not our money power; it is the sheer grace of God. I don't know how things will turn out. Let God's will prevail. Do things in faith. Don't use my bed and other effects shabbily. It would be wrong, remember." (To Yohannan Rambachan and others).
Wednesday 17th: Morning prayer over. Enquired of everyone 'Pottan', children, Mathai chettan. Said: "Pottan is very good. He will inherit heaven, Mathai is very poor, too poor infact. Remember me. God will bless you. You, my child, should not forget me."
Sunday 21: A huge gathering to kiss his hand. 'God bless', Thirumeni would tell them so that they all respond in unison. Reminded them strongly about observance of prayer and fasting.
"Blessed children, even if I leave you physically, I will be with you spiritually. Remember every blessing, specially. Pray for me. Thirumeni dwelt on the patience, long suffering, noble deeds, prayer and fasting and told them. It is your duty to tell those who succeed you that Pampady Thirumeni had told you these things, especially."
The mortal remains of Kuriakose Mar Gregorious Metropolitan of Kottayam diocese who passed away on Monday 5th April 1965, were interred in the specially prepared vault (Kabar) in the presence of over 25,0000 people by His Holiness Mar Augen Catholicos assisted by a number of High Priests and priests. The funeral procession which started at 8 a.m took two hours to reach the dayara where the funeral went on till 12 noon. It was solemnised by Bava Thirumeni assisted by Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Gregorios, Daniel Mar Philoxinos, Paulose Mar Philoxenos, Mathews Mar Ivanios, Abraham Mar Clemis and Ramban Aprem Aboudi and Yakub of Madapatt. Hundreds of priests were also associated with it. Thousands with tear drenched eyes witnessed the function which was sad as it was charged with emotion. A good many, unable to stand the scene broke down and tears were streaming down their cheeks. Wailing and sobbing rise and fell like waves and was heard till some distance. At 12.15 Thirumeni's body in the seated position, was lowered to the vault 5 feet deep and was covered with myrrh and incense, and not to speak of the tears that kept tricking down faithful cheeks.
Pampady Thirumeni's "Nagarikanikkal" Susroosha
Ceremonial guns boomed 80 times aside from ten thousand peeling bells of churches near and far. Even in the absence of state transport buses which were not plying, thousands upon thousands from all over Malankara thronged there to join the procession to witness the funeral and to pay their respects.
Around 8 P.M Thirumeni's body was taken to Pampady Valiya Pally from the dayara. Special prayers were offered throughout the night. Abraham Mar Clemis Thirumeni gave the funeral oration.
After prayers and the formal farewell from the town the cortege left for Pothenpuram around 9 A.M. At the head of the procession there was the pilot jeep. Behind was a priest in his robes. Children waving black flags, band sets, silver and gold crosses from the different churches, ornamental umbrellas formed the top half of the procession. Behind came the row after row of women followed by men, priests and the rest. The cortege, miles long, was also accompanied by trucks and lorries draped in black upto Alampally Junction.
On the chariot delectably decked in embroidered black beside the seated body of Thirumeni in all regalia, sat Mathews Mar Ivanios Thirumeni, Abraham Mar Clemis Thirumeni and Paulose Mar Philoxenos Thirumeni. Lining the whole stretch from Pampady to Pothenpuram stood men, women and children defying their age, for hours on end six or seven tire deep. Many of them swept bitterly at the sight of their dear departed leader. Black flags marked the whole stretch.
'Pottan' who served Thirumeni everyday of his life for more than sixty odd years fell unconscious at the tomb. Probably he never entertained the thought, or was unable to think that he would ever have to part with Thirumeni some day. His devotion and love to Thirumeni was unfathomable, unalloyed. Just before his body was to be lowered to the vault, he removed the 'sosappa'-the cloth which finally covers the face and the head of the deceased - and kissed Thirumeni on either cheek. This unforgettable act of devotion was too much for those who stood by to hold their emotion in check. They all wept unashamedly.
Thirumeni and his devoted "Pottan"
The number of wreaths offered by people and institutions could not be counted. Special wreaths were offered by Pampady Pally, co-operative society, MGM High School, Public Library etc. Rev. P.L Francis representing Chaldean Syrian church Metropolitan Marthoma Dharmo Thirumeni and Rev. Fr. William representing Deepika placed wreaths on Thirumeni's body.
It took two hours fro the cortege to reach Pothenpuram. It was a sea of humanity. The body was shifted from the chariot and taken to the special platform where it was seated facing east. HC. C. Catholica Bava and K.M Cherian, Chief Editor, Manorama spoke about Thirumeni's life and mission.
The farewell that followed was heart rending. When accompanied by another Metropolitan Bava Thirumeni chanted; "Holy Father Go in Peace" there was not an eye that was not yet wet because the life of Pampady Thirumeni had an appeal as unique as it was pure and compelling. He was as pure as a young dove and as meek as a lamb. After the final farewell the body was taken to the "madbaha" before it was finally placed in the vault (Kabar).
In his funeral oration Bava Thirumeni exhorted his people to follow the model of Pampady Thirumeni who lived a life of immaculate purity devoted entirely to spiritual moorings. "Obey Him who sent me, listening to the words that I speak about him." His master's words were his clarion call through out his life. Such lives never fade or die. They live for ever inspiring many. Thirumeni loved God above everything. For him love had precedence even over church. He lived to love everyone without distinction. He treated everyone alike and prayed for them. The strength and dynamism of his life came from total lack of materialistic bond and spiritual cling. To gain his continued blessings we must try to follow his model and to return the love that he gave without stint. We must keep respecting his memory and praying for him.
"He was a gem pure and dazzling, the like of which Malankara Church could never boast of" said K.M Cherian. That rare gem was God's own gift to the church and the silent life of service that he rendered to the church acted and will continue to act as a magnet attracting all and sundry, especially the marginalised in society, to God's ever beckoning presence. Drawing sustenance from this perennial source we too can make our lives noble.
Given below is the letter (Kalpana) sent round by Mathews Mar Ivanios from Pampady Dayara on April 12, 1965:
You all remember that Kuriakose Mar Gregorios Metropolitan of Kottayam diocese passed away on April 5 and was buried on Tuesday, the 6th.
At the meeting held on 9th it was decided to organise his 30th day prayer on Tuesday 4 May, 1965 at the Pampady dayara. It was also decided that 501 paras (mounds) of paddy should be prepared for the feast. An amount of Rs. 25,000 is the expenditure expected. Liberal contributions are being received from people, parishes and institutions. Yet we require more to meet the expenses. So an amount of Rs.... will be reunited by your church before the 30th of this month. We would also require all of you to come with gifts and offerings and go back blessed attending the prayer.
Because we expect every church to participate in this, we would strictly ban solemnising any Qurbana or memorial prayer in Thirumeni's name before the said date. Further details of the 39th day function will be informed from time to time. We will be fulfilling our dues and responsibilities to Thirumeni only by following his noble ideals in life. Therefore we would appeal to you that you should pray and fast for Thirumeni till this day. May his prayers and intercessions be a fortress for us in our daily lives.