HISTORY OF KIZHAVANERI
This small village consists of three different sections of communities. The Christians of the Nadar Community on the North, the Hindu Harijans just South and the Hindu Yadavas or Konars still further South.Irrespective of caste and creed,all the people live in perfect uniformity, harmony and understanding.
THE CHRISTIANS :
No doubt the Nadars of this village ought to have been Hindus in the past and ought to have embraced Christianity at the same time. But when was it ? and who was the missionary that brought Christianity to the village ? There is no history either in tradition or in any other record.
ST.FRANCIS XAVIER :
Have we anything to do with St.Francis Xavier in regard to the advent of Christianity to the Nadars of this hamlet?
St. Francis Xavier did an enormous work of conversion among the people of the coastal areas. Since Kizhavaneri is not too far from the coast, there is a possibility that we too could have been converted by the great St. Francis Xavier. However, there is no historical evidence to substantiate the claim.
No priest was stationed at Kizhavaneri for a long time.
There was in the village an administrative set-up. This was called "Kattalaikarars system."
It was a body of five members of the affluent section in the village, responsible for normal function of law and order in the village. These kattalaikarars were, of course respectable people of the village.Both Christians and Hindus had respect to these elders.They were responsible for organizing the titular festival of St.Anne every year from 17th to 26th of July by collecting a fixed rate of contribution from every family.
These village elders took care also of the social life of the people. They made sure that no one indulged in any kind of indecent behavior or foul language.
Criminal assaults or money transactions too were settled amicably between contending parties. In fact any aggrieved man or woman would get justice from these elders . Yet, in 1935 at the time of Fr.Kalam, they were off the field for obvious reasons.
Even though there were years when we had sufficient rain, the lands yielded only a single crop. After harvest, the lands remained idle. So the Christians unable to feed themselves had to seek employment elsewhere.
Today there are hardly any farmers left. The younger generation has gone after higher education and lucrative professions within and outside the country.
ECONOMY OF THE VILLAGE :
The Christian peasants as well as their counterparts among Hindus lived in abject poverty with a hand-to-mouth existence. The Christians economy was hinging on farms and palms.
The villagers were predominantly farmers by profession. Farming was very exhausting because the labour and the product of the labour were not proportionate.
The water reservoir for irrigation is classified as channel fed tank. It gets water from Vadamalayankal which depends upon the Namiyar river for water supply. The Namiyar river in turn depends on the rain god, Varana Bhagavan for rain. Hence, water supply was very unpredictable.
We all have bitter memories of the vagaries of the monsoon rain for 6 to 7 years continuously. In the years 1977, 1978 and 1979, the North East monsoon rains were good and the farmers were well rewarded for their labour. However, from the year 1980, there was a great drought. There was no rain.
THE PALMS :
In those days, palm trees (palmyras) were the main source of income for the Christians.
Nine out of ten families were palm-labourers.
This labour is also a drudgery like agriculture. But this requires no capital investment. This palm-job starts from march of every year and lasts up to August-a period of about six months. And what after the season ? Again a hectic run for some means to earn till next season.
A BLESSING IN DISGUISE :
In course of time , younger generations with a touch of education began to think aloud. They found that neither farming nor palm-industry would pay. They wanted a change The alternative was to migrate to Ceylon.
They worked hard in Ceylon and began remitting their savings home. This gave the much needed education to their children at home. In turn, boys and girls of Kizhavaneri found their ways into lucrative jobs in government offices,firms,schools,banks etc. Some boys began to start their own business in Madras and Bombay. Few more have been luckier in finding jobs in Gulf countries. It is a blessing in disguise!
In the earlier part of 20th century, the dress habits and personal make-up of our People were more or less primitive as compared to our present fashions.The men folk had a long tuft of hair, un-oiled and unkempt: yield -up in some kind Of strange knot child. The body was bare above the waist with a dhoti tied around the waist.The women folk – young and old – were dressed with a single sari of 16 cubits of which one end was tied around the waist, while the other was brought up around the left shoulder to shield the breast. Hair was clumsily combed and tied up behind.
Was there really a habit of any staple food among our people? Definitely no! when the monsoon blessed them with fine harvest they had rice and curry every day. Otherwise cholam was their ``shorgam'' there was no other way. When corn was also scarce they ran after a piece of jaggery and plenty of pure water for filling up their bellies.
Our Church is dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of Our Lady. The old church was demolished in the year 1977-78 and in its place a bigger and more elegant church was built by late Fr. Sengolmani.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Kizhavaneri was under Kallikulam parish, when late Fr. A. Caussanel.S.J. was the parish priest.
KIZHAVANERI PARISH AND FIRST PRIEST:
In the Year 1926 Rev.Fr.Stanislaus Bangar became the First Parish Priest Of Kizhavaneri.
The following villages were its substations: Pandarkulam, Achambadu, Anaikulam, Pudur Pudukudiyiruppu, Arupuli and Madapuram.
Two years later when Fr. Bangar left the parish, Fr. Dominic Swaminather became the second parish priest of Kizhavaneri in the year 1928. But soon he was sent to Kallikulam again.
From 1926 till today 26 priests have served in our Parish. The current Parish Priest is the 27th priest to Kizhavaneri.
Rev. Father Sengol Singarayar Mani, the 18th Parish Priest, demolished the old St. Antony's Church and St. Anne's Church . First he completed the St. Antony's Church and then he laid foundation for the new St. Anne's Church on 14-01-1979 and successfully completed it in 1080. It was consecrated by the Most. Rev. Ambrose DD, the bishop of Tuticorin on 23-07-1980.