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Eparchy of Puttur

Eparchy of Puttur

The Eparchy consists of nine civil districts of Karnataka State with a vast geographical area of 51,950 square kilometers. The civil districts are South Kanara (Dakshina Kannada), Chamarajnagar, Chickmagalur, Hassan, Kodagu, Mandya, Mysore, Shimoga and Udupi. It has two ecclesiastical districts of South Kanara (Dakshina Kannada) and Shimoga.

The region is full of scenic forests and the numerous rivers that originate with abundant natural beauty. The numerous lakes, ponds and water bodies make the land very suitable for agriculture. Nethravathi, Kumaradhara, Palguni, Shambavi, Hemavathi, Kabini, Kaveri are some of the famous rivers that run through this land.

Puttur got its name after pearl 'Mutthu' in Kannada language. The 'Place of pearl' or 'Mutthur' slowly evolved itself to Puttur. The famous believed myth is centuries old: Due to draught, priests were performing rituals with rice in the holy pond of a local temple; suddenly the water started coming from all the corners to turn those rice into pearl.


The total population of Puttur diocese is 14,310,166.  Out of that just 2,500 are Malankara Catholics which makes around 0.018%). As many as 800 families come under the 22 parishes of this diocese, most of whom were migrants from Kerala, generations ago.


Kannada which is the official state language of Karnataka is the main language across the geographical diocese spoken by the majority. Malayalam is the official language of the Diocese. With that there are people who speak Tamil, Telugu, Tulu, Konkanni, Kodava, Beary basha and English.


The Church in India traces its origin to the missionary endeavors of St. Thomas the Apostle who arrived in India in 52 AD. Due to this apostolic foundation, the ancient Christian community in India was known as the St. Thomas Christians. This church that remained one, holy, catholic and apostolic was autonomous and remained in communion with the Universal Church till the 17th century. A movement to Latinize the Indian Church, with the arrival of Portuguese missionaries resulted in a schism and a portion of this undivided community eventually came into contact with the Jacobites under the Patriarch of Antioch.

There were many attempts for reunion with the Catholic Church ever since the split. The efforts of Archbishop Mar Ivanios and Bishop Jacob Mar Theophilos paved way to the historical event of 'Reunion Movement' in the Malankara Church. On Sept. 20, 1930 the Universal Church received the Malankara Church into the Catholic communion with its liturgy, customs and jurisdiction. As the Reunion Movement developed, Pope Pius XI established the Syro-Malankara Catholic Hierarchy for the reunited people and established the Arch eparchy of Trivandrum and the Eparchy of Tiruvalla by the Apostolic Constitution Christo Pastorum Principi of June 11, 1932. The Eparchy of Tiruvalla extended from the River Pampa in the south to the River Ponnani in the north.

The migration of people from Kerala state to the southern parts of Karnataka began in 1950's. The pastoral works in Karnataka commenced with the extension of the Eparchy of Tiruvalla in 1958. In 1967 Father Thomas Thannickakuzhy was sent to South Kanara (Dakshina Kannada) in Karnataka state to work among the Malankara faithful living in this region. Later it became the part of Eparchy of Sulthan Bathery erected in 1978.

Further, there has been a great progress in the evangelization work in Karnataka. However, the distance from the eparchial headquarters as well as the shortage of priests and religious were strong obstacles in organizing the migrated people and founding new missions in this area. In spite of the said difficulties, due to the selfless hard work of priests, both eparchial and religious who belong to the Order of the Imitation of Christ (OIC), and the religious sisters belonging to the congregations of the Sisters of the Imitation of Christ (SIC), the Daughters of Mary (DM), the Deena Sevana Sabha (DSS) and the Holy Spirit Sisters (OSS) there was widespread missionary extension.

In spite of the distance, 22 parishes and mission centers were established together with a few educational institutions to impart a value-based education to the children and youth irrespective of their social, religious and cultural differences. With this growth, there aroused a desire in the faithful of Malankara Church in this region to be organized into an independent Eparchy for their ecclesial growth and development.

Taking into consideration the geographical, cultural and linguistic identity of the region a separate Syro-Malankara Eparchy of Puttur was erected on Jan. 25, 2010 and was inaugurated on April 15, 2010. This is the first and only Syro-Malankara Eparchy in Karnataka state.


In May 2012, Karnataka is ruled by pro-Hindu political party of Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) (since May 2008). It has more than 110 state constituencies out of 224 across the state. During the present political rule, there have been number of cases of attacks on the minorities and their institutions and especially on Christians in South Canara and Udupi Districts of Karnataka.


The diocese has a good network of roads. It is well connected with many national highways connecting to different parts of Karnataka state and India. The Konkan Railway connects the region with Maharastra, Goa, Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan and Kerala states by train. South Canara has a seaport at Panambur near Mangalore. While Mangalore International Airport is situated near Mangalore, domestic Airport of Mysore offers number of air services.


The region has number of places of tourism importance. The land is known for Hindu temples and Jain Basadhis (places of worship by Jains) with multifarious art and architecture within those. Chennakeshava temple of Belur, Hoysaleshwara temple of Halebidu, Manjunatheshwara temple of Dharmasthala, Thousand Pillar temple of Moodbidri, eight temples (Ashta Matt) of Udupi are some of those. Huge statues of 'Bahubali' made of single black stones emanate touristic as well as religious waves. (According to the Jains, Bahubali, the second of the hundred sons of Rishabha, the king of Podanpurwas was the first human in the half time cycle to attain liberation through renunciation of the world. Accordingly they consider him as God -man).


Agriculture once a major occupation of the people of some of the districts across the diocese, has now taken back seat because of influx of money from natives settled in other commercial hubs, states and countries. Significant number of people from some areas work in Gulf (Middle East) countries and other states of India. Farms and fields are converted into residential plots and commercial (shopping) complexes. Horticulture though made some strides, has not prospered because of high labor cost and non availability of labor. Automation is not possible because of small holding of lands by farmers and undulating geography of land.

The main crops of the area are rice, coconut, areca nut, black pepper, cocoa, sugarcane, jowar, maize, cotton, banana, ragi, pulses (predominantly horse gram and to some extent tur, cowpea, green gram, black gram, avare). Rice is generally cultivated three seasons in a year but it is subjected to availability of water for the rice or paddy crop. Urad or Black gram is grown in some areas during season of Suggi. (Suggi is the time soon after the harvesting time mostly the months of December to February). Cultivation of vegetables and fruits in fields and gardens for own consumption and selling has declined substantially. Rubber plantation has been taken up by number of Syro-Malankara families especially in the areas which were lying unused for years.

Major information technology and outsourcing companies have started locating their facilities in Mangalore and Mysore. Number of IT parks are either already functioning or under construction. South Kanara is laden with the agricultural side effects because of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) established by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) with an investment of over 6,604 milion dollars (Rs. 35,000 crore).


The literacy rate of the Karnataka State has increased from 66.64 percent in 2001 to 75.60 percent in 2011, according to Census 2011. Out of the nine districts South Canara registers the highest rate of literacy with 88.62 percent. This is also the highest rate all over the state of Karnataka. Chamrajnagar district has the lowest literacy rate of 61.12 percent


Yakshagana is the popular folk art of Hindus mostly used in Udupi and South Canara districts. The Yakshagana is a night-long dance and drama performance practiced in the region with great fanfare. Pilivesha (tiger dance) is a unique form of folk dance in some places fascinating the young and the old alike, which is performed during some of the Hindu festivals. Karadi Vesha (bear dance) is one more popular dance for religious celebrations. Kambala or buffalo race is conducted in water filled rice fields. There are number of other folk dances and songs in each region.

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