Thursday, 18 December 2014

World Diabetes Day special

My Talk in World Diabetes Day special  along with
Dr. Mohan Varughese (Diabetologist),
Dr.Leena Thomas (Cardiologist),
Dr.Rajesh Joseph(Nephrologist),
Dr.Pravin Thomas(Neurologist),
Dr.Sunitha Mary Mathew (Gynaecologist) and
Mrs. Rani Thomas (Dietician)

anchored by Fr.Dr.Daniel Johnson (Director, Medical Missions)

Believers Church Medical College Hospital










Saturday, 11 October 2014

My talk on Computer related illnesses

Watch on Athmeeya Yathra TV regarding my talk on "Computer related illnesses" discussing the orthopaedic, ophthalmic, psychologic and social aspects and also regarding setting up an ergonomic computer workstation.
Click on the Youtube link below

Thursday, 28 August 2014

My TV talk on Post Menopausal Osteoporosis

            Athmeeya Yathra TV  has come up with a revamped and new version of Health talk programme known as "Arogyam" in conjunction with the start of our new Believers Church Medical College Hospital. Episode 1 and 2 is about my talk on Post menopausal Osteoporosis, anchored by Dr. Sonia Suresh.(Diabetologist)

Watch it on You tube

Monday, 14 April 2014

Assyrian influence of Vishu, Kollavarsham and Sabarimala

Dr.Joji Joshua Philipose

Vishu is one of the most popular South Indian festival. It is celebrated widely in the state of Kerala. Many myths have been suggested regarding its origin including Rama killing Ravana who did not allow sun to rise from east, Krishna killing Narakasura.
The origin of Vishu is elusive and obscure as there is lack of literature regarding it. The customs and traditions change slightly from region to region within Kerala itself as per the local values and customs. This makes it even more confusing, not to mention the change in the attitude and lifestyle of the people.
Vishu is considered as the beginning of new-year, an auspicious day to start by seeing the “Vishukkani” for a bright year ahead. But according to Gregorian calendar New year is January 1st and Kollavarsham, its Chingom 1st. How did 2nd week of April or Medom 1 come as New year?
The term 'Vishu' denotes 'Equal' in Sanskrit language. The sun enters the medom rashi or the Aries Zodiac. Between the Uttarayana and Dakshinayana, the Sun rises exactly in the east so that the hours in the day and night are exactly equal. This is called “vernal Equinox”.
Vishu is mentioned in William Logan’s Malabar Manual as follows: Mathematically Vishu is the New Year day. On this day, Sun rises straight from the East.
Chithira Vishu finds mention in the incomplete Trikodithanam Shasanam by Bhaskara Ravivarman who ruled Kerala between AD 962 and 1021. According to scholars, Vishu has become a major celebration by then. It is believed that Vishu celebrations began in Kerala during the reign of Sthanu Ravi Varman who ruled Chera Kingdom between AD 844 and 885. His reign was noted for developments in science, economic prosperity and political stability. The famous astronomer Sankara Narayana (the author of Sankara Narayaniyam, a commentary of Bhaskara's Laghu Bhaskariya) was member of the royal palace of Sthanu Ravi at Mahodayapuram(old Kodungallur). He is believed to have established the first astronomical observatory in Kerala at Kodungallur.
Historically Indian astronomy developed as an"auxiliary disciplines" associated with the study of the Vedas dating 1500 BCE or older.  But the oldest records of Astronomy is found in Mesopotamia which included Sumeria, Babylon and Assyria. They passed it on to the Greeks and eventually the Hellenistic astronomy had been the greatest influence to the modern world. Our astronomy and numerology is thought to be based on their Kalpaganita. (Kesari A. Balakrishnapilla- Charithrathinte adiverukal).The independent discovery of Indian astronomy is also debated.
South west coast of India was a well known spice route for thousands of years. Mediteranean migration of Assyrians especially from Ninaveh has been described. N.V.Krishnawarrior mentions semetic Asuras(Assyrians) where Banasura of Ninaveh with his daughter(who loved Krishnas grandson Anirudhan) and family migrated here after the fall of Babylonian civilization. The older Brahma lipi(language) was from right to left like semetic.
Assyrians have been celebrating Akitu or the new year since 4750BC on the vernal spring equinox ie first week of April.

According to Christian philosophy first day of creation is believed to be on this day(Medom 1)
Adam was created on the first friday of Medom. Christ was crucified on the first friday of Medom.
According to A.Sreedharamenon- Kerala Samskaram, we are a mixture of the Indus valley,Mediteranean, Greek civilizations as well as the indigenous Protoastroloid tribe which migrated from East Africa to South Asia 70000-50000 years ago.
Interestingly the 3 legendary wise men who visited Baby Jesus in Bethlehem with the help of the star was Melchior from Persia, Caspar/Gaspar from India and Balthazar from Arabia.
In AD 822, a group of Syrian Christians migrated to Kerala in Kollam, the then capital of VEnad Swaroopam, a feudatory under the Chera Kingdom, including two bishops Mar Sabor and Mar Afroth. They came along with a group of immigrents lead by a merchant named Maruvan Sapir Isho( Some say Mar Sabor and Sapir Isho are one person)
Kollam sea port was founded by Mar Sabor at Thangasseri in 825 AD instead of reopening the inland sea port (kore-ke-ni kollam) near Backare (Thevalakara) also known as Nelcynda and Tyndis to the Romans and The Greeks and Thondi to the Tamils.
Mar Sabor volunteered to the Chera king to create a new sea port town near at Kollam instead of his request for renewing the Almost vanishing Tyndis or Nelcynda inland sea port (kore-ke-ni) at Kollam, lying idle without trade for a few centuries because of the Cheras being overrun by Pallavas in the 6th century AD ending the spice trade from Malabar coast. V.V Nagom Aiya in his state manual states “ In 822A.D. two Bishops Mar Sapor and Mar Peroz/Afroth settled in Quilon with a following .Two years later the Malabar Era began (824A.D.) and was called after Quilon which was undoubtedly the premier city of malabar including Travancore and Cochin”.
M.G.S.Narayan in his paper on Chera_pandya conflict in the 8th–9th centuries which led to the birth of Venad writes, “ It is not surprising that the Chera king who was contemplating the development of the new harbour town at Kurakeni Kollam welcomed the Monks and permitted him to introduce Syrian liturgy in worship other than Sanskrit liturgy following the shivite revival. This was the period when the Cera-Pandya conflict was developing in the south.The foundation of Kollam in 825 A.D. must have coincided with this victory of Chera in the Vel province.Therefore it is easy to understand the anxiety of the Chera king to please Vaishanavites and allow the Assyrian Monks to settle at Kollam so that the harbour might grow quickly and compete effectively with Nillakal further south which had passed under the control of the Pandya. This incident reveals the practical wisdom of the rulers and throws light on the economic –political motivations of men who promoted ideas of religion and culture. The Syrian Christian Monks who took advantage of the situation were equally clever and resourceful
Narayan M.G.S.,writes in Cultural Symbiosis that “ By the time of the Syrian Christian Copper Plates of the 9th century the foreign Christians and the Christians of Kerala who were just Nampoothiri Vaishnavites and Nairs had become part and parcel of the local village community.” This means that they did not remain as a separate group but rather they intermarried with the Christians of Kerala, and accepted the local cultural idioms. “The deity of the Tarsa Church was referred to the tevar. An important offering to the tevar was the sacred oil lamp as in the case of contemporary Brahmanical temples, is an indication to the fact that their conception of religion was shaped by local culture.”
Mar Sabor and Mar Proth came from the Middle East on the invitation of the Kollam King as an Authority for the Doctrine of Trinity on the background of a Shivate Revival of Advaita Vedanta propounded by Adi Shankara. The start of the Malayalam era(ME) is associated with Kollam. It is believed that the era was started by these Asyriac Saints who settled in Korukeni kollam, near to the present Kollam. The ME is also referred as Kollavarsham. The origin of Kollam Era has been dated to 825 AD, when the great convention in Kollam was held at the behest of King. Kollam was an important town in that period, and the Malayalam Era is called 'Kolla Varsham,' possibly as a result of the Tarish-a-palli sassnam. It also signified the independence of Malabar from the Cheraman Perumals. Ayyan atikal Thiruvatikal granted the copper plate grants in 849 AD to Mar Sabor Iso whom he invited to Kollam from Assyria (present Persia & Syria) with Constantinople as the spiritual seat (the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire), and transferring to the Tarasa Church and Vaishnavite Nambuthiri community at Devalokakara (Thevalakara-(Tarsish)) in Quilon, lands near the city with hereditament of low caste.
Tharisappalli Copper Plate (Tharisappalli Chepped) is a copper-plate grant issued by the King of Venadu (Quilon), Ayyan Atikal Tiruvatikal, to the Syrian Christians in Malabar Coast in the 5th regnal year of the Chera ruler Sthanu Ravi Varma in AD 849. The inscription describes the gift of a plot of land to the Syrian Church near Quilon, along with several rights and 72 privileges to the Syrian Christians led by Mar Sabor Iso.
The Tharisappalli Copper Plate is one of the important historical inscriptions of Kerala, the date of which has been determined with accuracy. The grant was made in the presence of important officers of the state and the representatives of trade corporations or merchant guilds. It also throws light on the system of taxation that prevailed in early Venad, as several taxes like profession tax, sales tax, vehicle tax, etc., are mentioned in it. It also testifies to the enlightened policy of religious toleration followed by the rulers of ancient Kerala.
There are three sets of plates as part of this document,second one was lost and other two are incomplete. These plates are in the possession of Malankara Orthodox Church in Kottayam and Mar Thoma Church in Thiruvalla.The first set documented the land while the second set documented the conditions. The signatories signed the document in Hebrew, Pahlavi, and Kufic languages.

Ayyanadikal Thiruvadikal ( ruler of Ay kingdom), the feudatory of the Chera ruler Sthanu Ravi Varma, conferred the various privileges upon this church not at their very first sight, but having tested the worth and utility of the recipients.
From Nagarkovil in South to Sahyadri in East and Thiruvalla in North was ruled by a Kingdom known as AYi(Recorded by Ptolomy as Aioi) by the Vel kings with their Head Quarter at Kollam (Quilon).[ayiroor;ayoor;ayimanam etc are some of the place names still existing in ayi kingdom area of central kerala] This Kingdom in later years was called VELNADU or VENADU Flowing in the east west direction with Thiruvalla on the north, records river Pampa. When St.Thomas visited Nilackal, this Kingdom ruled this area. The Copper plate Chepped given to Sabor Isho was witnessed by one Vel Prabhu. The Nilackal hills, and planes of Pampa were connected to Pandi [TAMIL NADU]by well-established trade routes. These places were connected to Muzris port [ANCIENT PORT AT KODUNGALLOR] via Sea and Kayal. Nilackal was a centre for spices and timber. 
They established churches in Kollam, Kayankulam, Udayamperoor, Akapparambu. The Church at Akapparambu is believed to have been established in AD. 825. It is said that they were granted the land to build a church after successful theological debate with the local religious leaders. Around 825 AD, Maruvan Sapir Eso built the chayal asramam, Nilalkkal near the chayal St. Thomas Church planted by St.Thomas during the first century.CHAYAL in Hebrew means people who stay alone. Towards the end of his life he spent most of his time in meditation in this Ashram and  was buried in this ashram. The hill where he was buried is known as Sabor Mala that is the present Sabarimala as per christian beliefs
Mar Sabor moved to Kadamattom, Akapparambu, Niranam Diocese (St.Thomas orthodox church) and Kayamkulam (Kadisha church-earlier known as Mor Sabor Mor Aphroth Church) then finally to Thevalakkara (Marthamariam Orthodox Syrian Church Thevalakkara) where he died and was buried. On both sides of the cross in the altar of Kadamattom Church which is 76cm long and 51cm wide is written in Pahlavi script two sentences and on the centre a small sentence. Pahlavi linguist, Jamshed Modi translated it as follows, “I have come to this nation from Ninevah as a bird. Mar Sapor writes ,the forgiving Misheha( God Jesus) who saved me from persecution”.It was Mar Sabor who adopted and raised young Poulose and ordained him as Fr Poulose or the famous legendary “Kadamattathu Kathanar”. Mar Ephroth had moved to Kodungallor.
                                   Tomb of Mar Sabor at Marth Mariam Church, Thevalakkara
1. The Malayalam Calendar, often known as Kollam Era, was started in 825 AD and was attributed to have begun to commemorate the founding of the port town of Quilon by Mar Sabor. Probably, the rich Chaldean astronomical traditions, which Mar Sabor brought from the erstwhile Sassanid Persia, must have been instrumental in developing this calendar in the inceptional stage.
2.Vishu celebrations began in Kerala during the reign of Sthanu Ravi Varman who ruled Chera Kingdom between AD 844 and 885. The Tharisappally Plates were given to the Assyrian saints in AD849.Sankaranarayana who built the first observatory in kerala could have had influence from the Assyrian Astronomy. The Assyrian immigrants might have influenced to celebrate the New Year on spring vernal equinox. Inspite of the caste and religion Vishu would have been celebrated by everyone including the Nazranis of Kerala during olden days.
3. The Syrian Christians used to go on pilgrimages to  Nilackal Church and Chayal Asram on the festival days of the churches till the place was completely destroyed by AD1341 due to floods and frequent attack by the Pandians from Tamilnadu. The present church constructed at Nilackal is quite away from the actual spot where the original church was existing. This was done so to avoid dispute and confrontation with Ayappa followers in Sabarmala.The existence of the old Nilackal Church on the side of Nilackal Kulam (pond) was known to many of our forefathers.It is believed that there was one more church little away from the Nilackal Church. This could possibly be Chayal church constructed by Mar Sabor Isho. Could Mar Sabor Isho be the Shabarishan and Sabor-mala where he was buried be the Sabarimala? Some claim that it was a Buddhist monastery also. Since the remnants of the churches were seen by many who had visited this place till end of 19th century, it was most likely to have found a place in the Great Survey of India Records. Further research and excavations in this direction is required.
1. Indian Orthodox Church. History and Culture. (Church History). By. Rev. Dr. JosephCheeran. K. V. Mammen, Kottackal. Adv. P. C. Mathew, Pulikottil. 
2. A. Balakrishnapilla, Charithrathinte adiverukal
3. A.Sreedharamenon, Kerala Samskaram
4. V.V Nagom Aiya., state manual
5. William Logan, Malabar Manual
6. Narayan, M.G.S, Cera-Pandya conflict in the 8th–9th centuries which led to the birth of Venad:Pandyan History seminar, Madurai University, 1971
7. Narayan M.G.S., Cultural Symbiosis
8. P.E. Easo, Syrian Christian Tradition March 2000
9. Wikipedia and other internet sites.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Gavi,Pathanamthitta, Kerala

Kattappana Life, a trekker’s bliss

 16th November 2004 to 7th January 2005.
Shattering everyone’s future career plans, the government came up with a new Compulsory rural service plan in 2004.  Some took it seriously but others didn’t. Anyway I was ready to take it and it was a blessing in disguise. Joe had got posting in Kumily which was near to Thekkady. With him I set off to Kattappana for a new life.
With all the big luggage, we took the train from Trivandrum and got down at Kottayam. We took a bus to Thodupuzha and then to Painavu DMO office to collect the joining letter as Assistant Surgeon. From there, we took a jeep to Cheruthoni and then a bus to Kattappana. Both of us stayed in Vimala Lodge. Joe left Kumily the next day.
17/11 My PHC was in a place called ‘20acre’ which was around 3 km from the town. The MO in charge was leave for 3 days and I managed the OP alone seeing around 200 patients.
18/11 I conducted a School Health camp in two schools at Puliyanmala. One of them was a branch of Christ Nagar where I studied in Trivandrum.
19/11 I climbed the Kurishumala hill which was very near to the town. It took around 45 minutes for the climb.  I could see the whole of Kattappana town from there and the view was very beautiful.
20/11 I went to Kumily to see Joe. We went for an evening walk with Shaji and Suresh who were sales tax officers whom Joe had met earlier. We crossed the check post and entered Tamilnadu. We saw a dam inside the forest and huge pipes which took water to Tamilnadu. We saw the town Cumbum from there and it was fantastic.
21/11 We roamed around Thekkady and saw wild boars, monkeys, giant squirrel and sambar deer
I took a week off to come to Trivandrum. I was back in Kattappana on first of December. I climbed Kurishumala once more but this time I had a camera with me. For all the trekkings around town I was enjoying  the loneliness. The place was just beautiful and the people were so simple.
2/12 I roamed around the Kattappana town and also the quarry in Puliyanmala.
3/12 I conducted the immunization camp in Kochuthovala.

5/12  After the OPD at 12 noon I walked to a nearby place called Anjuruli, a beautiful place bordered by the Idukki Reservoir. I saw a large tunnel which was around 3-4 km long carried water to drain in the reservoir. I couldn’t resist the temptation of climbing the nearby hill. There was a small teashop at the base and after asking the directions, I climbed up. The route was quite treacherous and there was no turning back. I took a break to sit down and have my packed lunch. All the time I was thinking that I was alone but I was not. As I was having the lunch, I was surrounded by a group of monkeys. Luckily I was not attacked and I quickly cleared the place. The summit of the hillock was picturesque. I could see a wide view of the Idukki reservoir and the Anjuruli, where I came from.  I also climbed another Kurishmala nearby. After watching the beautiful sunset, I climbed down on the other side to reach Nirmala City and from there I walked along the road for about 1.5 hrs to reach Kattappana. I walked for around 8 hours continuously that day.
8/12 I was part of the Wagamon- Erattupetta trip. We named it “Tour de Jumbo” as Abhishek who was doing CRS in Erattupetta was organizing it along with Joy John from Poonjar. I came from Kattappana, Joe from Kumily, Aby and Shabu from Pathanamthitta, Jujju and Deep from Trivandrum. We stayed at Erattupetta. We were lucky to watch the wonderful fireworks at the Pala Church Jubilee celebrations and we met our classmate Sherin Jos over there.
9/12 We visited the PHC of Joy John at Poonjar. There was a Python caged in a nearby church. We set of to Wagamon in Dandy Chettan’s Jeep. On the way, the tyre plate broke which made a delay of around 1 hr. In Wagamon we roamed around Rolling hills, Pine forest,

Kurishumala ashram and saw the fishes and the 6 feet tall cows who gave around 45 litres milk everyday. Joy and me climbed the Wagamon Kurishumala in 15 min. On the way back we got into a Toddy shop and had meals with fish and delicious frog fry.
12/12 I went to Kumily Church on Sunday. Later Joe, Neelesh, Joy(local guy) and me went to Cumbum in Tamilnadu. And from there to Suruli waterfalls. The irresponsible tourists were dirtying yet another nature spot. We got caught by the Tamilnadu forest guards as we tried to climb up the waterfalls. It seems there was a reserve forest with some dam over there and entry was restricted. Anyway we took photos of the falls. We climbed the Kurishumala in Kumily that evening. God alone knows how many Kurishumala hills have I climbed over these days.
14/12 Kumily was just 1 hour by bus from Kattappana. So I used to do frequent trips. On the way I visited Chellarkovilmedu. The whole place was covered with mist and I could see the beautiful Tamilnadu plains and the Cumbum town during the clearing of the mist. It was quite adventurous to explore the crevices beneath the rocks and I was alone.
15/12 After the night stay at Kumily with Joe we did a trip to Thekkady with Nilesh and Health Inspector Thankachan. We went in the “Vanadarshan” boat owned by the forest department along with a guide named Vijayan. We got the bed sheets from the Hotel Lake palace inside the forest. We got down on the forest banks after around half an hour of boat journey. We saw foot marks of many animals. Our path was blocked by a group of wild boars and we had to wait for some time
till they left. We walked for around 2.5 km to reach Manakkavala Bison Camp. It was a beautiful camp site. Our great friend Health Inspector forgot to bring the Chicken that he bought the previous day. But luckily Vijayan Chettan came out with eggs, rice, jam and other items that he brought during his previous visits. He had been a guide for the last 25 years. Chettan made Chappathi for us. We did an evening stroll around the camp for 2 hours and saw wild boars, a big herd of Indian Gaurs(around 17),Nilgiri Langur, a snake, lot of beautiful birds and  heard sounds of elephants and bear. We had a nice bath in the reservoir at around 6.30 pm and it was already dark .We could only guess the type of animals that watched us bathing. The experience was thrilling but not as thrilling as the wild life stories narrated by Vijayan chettan that night. How could I forget his crepitus laugh.
16/12 We had upma for breakfast. After a 1.5 hr walk along different route we reached the opposite banks of the boat landing area. On the way we saw a group of otters enjoying their time in water. We crossed the lake in a catamaran.In the evening, I took Joe and Neelesh to Chellarkovilmedu. This time there was no mist and everything was so visible compared to last time when I went alone.
18/12 Joe came to Kattappana. I got a bike from Koshy, the health inspector of Champakkara and with our health inspector Mathew, We went to Ramakkalmedu. The place was beautiful with 2 large statues of Kuravan and Kurathi, the rocks and the windmills and also the great view of Tamilnadu plains and cumbum town. We had dinner at Mathew’s house which was just half a km away from the tourist spot.
I went back to Trivandrum to spend Christmas with my family.
31/12 On the way back to Kattappana, I celebrated new year eve with songs and dance in KSRTC superfast bus with strangers. That was really a unique experience.
1/1/05 I visited papa’s friend Mr.V.M.Abraham and participated as chief guest and gave felicitations in their “swayam sahayaka sanghom” meeting.
2/1 After the morning Holy Mass I did trekking to a nearby place called Kallukunnu. The evening trip was to Puliyanmala rock. I really enjoyed the steep climb and the scenic beauty at the top.
3/1 Calvary mount was near to Kattappana and after the regular OP, I went there alone as always. The view of the reservoir beneath was breathtaking and that’s still fresh in my memories.
7/2 Time has passed so fast. The doctors who got appointments via Public Service Commission filed as case against the compulsory rural service saying that their jobs were in stake. So we were given the option of relieving from the service. As I was midway doing the preparation for a career in UK, I got relieved from the job of Assistant Surgeon, PHC, Kattappana on the 7th January 2005.
15/1 Joe had called me to join him for a medical camp in Pachakkanam near Kumily for the Sinhalese refugees. I couldn’t resist the temptation of another forest trip. I went to Kumily from Trivandrum.After the camp, we went to Gavi. There we saw around 6-7 wild elephants in different places and also a small deer. We visited Pampa dam too. From there around 8 of us took a jeep to Pullumedu. It was the next day of Sabarimala Makaravilakku and the Pullumedu was in the route of the pilgrims coming to Sabarimala especially from Tamilnadu. As we were nearing Pullumedu, the feel of the forest had gone and there were too many people and vehicles coming back after the ‘darsan’.  We literally ate dust. Pullumedu has become ‘mannumedu’. We reached there towards sunset. It was a bigger Wagamon. We could see the Sabarimala sannidhanam and Ponnambalamedu from  Pullumedu. This marked a thrilling end to my most unexpected Idukki life. I found the lone trekker in me. I pushed the limit of an adventurer in me to greater heights. The 2 month long first independent life away from my family marked a prelude to a greater journey  farther away and longer period which boosted my inner self, the great UK life…