History of “Malai kovil”
In 1868 a small prayer hall was constructed on top of the hill in Agraharam by Rev Fr .Brikkot with the support of the Christian families. Holy mass and the procession were conducted in that prayer hall only twice a year. One among the 3 statues of Lourdu Annai that came to Tamil Nadu from France is now at Agraharam Malai Kovil. With the combined efforts and the hard work of the parish priests and the youths of the “Catholic Seva Sangam’ Mr. R Arocikasamy, Mr. C Raja Vaathiyar @ Savarimuthu, Mr. Siluvaimuthu, Mr. Chellakannu @ Anthony, Malai Kovil became a very beautiful place for worship. The youths cleared the shrubs around the Malai Kovil and made a pathway for the procession. Mother Mary’s procession is celebrated every year on 11th of Feb. 1958 was celebrated across the world as the jubilee of Mother Mary’s appearance in France. As part of the celebration Most Rev Bishop V.S Selvanathar selected Malai Kovil as the shrine of Salem Diocese. Under the supervision of Rev Fr. M Vargeese and the suggestion of Mr Santhappa the Grotto in the western side of the Malai Kovil was constructed. When Rev Fr. G Mooviale was the parish priest, Mr G.D Appavu from Pondicherry donated the Way of Cross Stations to Malai Kovil on 31.5.1968. From then, at 5.30 PM every Lent Friday Way of Cross and Holy Mass is offered in the Malai Kovil.
During the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Salem Diocese, Most Rev Bp Michael Duraisamy adorned Mother Mary with a golden crown. During the period of Rev Fr. S Arockiasamy, 2 Silver Jubilee arch gates were built: one in the Salem-Attur road and the other in Agraharam. Malai Kovil was named Lourdu Nagar. Western side of the Malai Kovil was extended during the period of Rev Fr. Xavier (1990-1993). 15th Station of the Way of Cross was constructed on the hill top during the period of Rev Fr.M Jegaraj(1993-1995). Also an alter depicting the last supper was constructed during his period. With the help of Rev Fr. K.S Lawrence from the Chennai Arch diocese pilgrim’s hall was opened on 8.12.1997. Later concrete road was laid around the Grotto. The parish saw many improvements after Rev Fr. Peter Francis was appointed the parish priest on 2001. In 2004, steps on the right and left side of the Grotto were constructed. To support the worshipers while climbing the steps a lengthy steel rail was fixed in the year 2005. Sun Shades were raised on both sides of the Grotto. Marriage hall and community hall constructed to serve the people needs are remarkable.
Agraharam Parish -“Holy Spirit Church”
History says that many countries were found in 18th century. Agraharam village was also formed in this 18th Century by Mr. Kaaliyapa Udayar. In 1702, Kaaliyapa Udayar, along with his family, servants and a Brahmin shifted from his village Veeranam to Agraharam. He built a temple for the goddess he took with him. His hardwork turned the forest in to a land that is suitable for cultivation. Attracted by this cultivation land few of his relatives and others from his native shifted to Agraharam. Kaaliyapa Udayar who was happily settled in Agraharam had a longing for a son to be his successor. He visited Uthariya Matha church in kakaveri where many miracles are witnessed by the believers. He was also blessed with a baby boy. As thanksgiving he renewed the roofing of the Kakaveri church. Also he and his family joined the Christian Faith. He was named Periyathambi after the PeriyaNayaki Matha.
This conversion earned him hatred from few of his relatives. But few others followed the footsteps of Periyathambi Udayar and joined the Christian Faith. In 1794, Rev Fr. Appothuva who was serving the Agraharam community paved way for the conversion of the Udayar from other Hindu religion. In 1820, a Christian lady , by her marriage with a man from different religion, brought her entire In Laws to her faith. Three more families from her husband’s village Athipaakam shifted to Agraharam. This way the Agraharam parish stared growing.
Priests from Paris visited Agraharam very often to preach the Word of God. But there was not a proper church for the priests to gather the people for prayer. In 1842, Rev Fr. Brikkot, purchased a land and laid the foundation for building a church, which was opposed by the people of other religion. After many hardships a church with Lady of Health as its patron was built and was blessed by Most Rev Bishop Poonan on 12.10.1846. Later, people belonging to the other religion shifted to the northern part of the village due to a fire accident. In 1868, in order to preach the Good News to those people, Rev Fr. Brikkot constructed a prayer hall on top of the hill in the situated in the northern part of the village. Rev Fr. Brikkot served the spiritual needs of the Agraharam people from 1868 to 1880. After him, older priests stayed in Agraharam to serve the people till 1930. Agraharam was still under the supervision of the Sevaipettai priests. Later Agraharam was made the sub parish of Sooramangalam. In 1939, to meet the increasing population, foundation for the present parish church was laid by Rev Fr. Joseph Baarel. On 31.8.1945 Agraharam was made a separate parish and Rev Fr. Matthew Thekadam was appointed as parish priest. In 1949 Fr Matthew Thekadam consecrated the church. Currently there are 2190 Christians living in the Agraharam parish.
First Saturday : 05.30 p.m. Car Procession of Mother Mary around the MalaiKovil road and Blessing of the Sick with the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction and Mass in Tamil.
All Saturdays : 07.00 a.m. Mass in Tamil.
Way of Cross at 5.30 p.m. on every Lent Fridays followed by the Holy Mass.
How to Reach ?
Lourdu Annai Shrine is located at Agraharam, A.N Mangalam village in Salem district. Salem is located in the middle of India’s southernmost state Tamil Nadu. It is around 390 KM from Tamilnadu state capital “Chennai” and 140 KM from “Coimbatore”.
From Salem old Bus stand to Karippatti -[Route # 74,44,10]
From Salem old Bus stand to A.N Mangalam -[Route # 37]
Salem New Bus stand to Karippatti
Express: Chennai Egmore – Salem JN (Via Virudhachalam) 353 KM
Express: Chennai Central – Salem JN (Via Jolarpettai) 390 KM
Passenger: Virudhachalam JN – Salem JN (Via Vallapadi) 139 KM
Passenger: Salem JN – Virudhachalam JN(Via Vallapadi) 139 KM
The Parish Priest,
Holy Spirit Church,
Agraharam, A.N. Mangalam (P.O.),
Karippatti Via, Salem – 636 106.
PH: 0427 – 2482526
Lourdu Annai Shrine,
Lourdu Nagar, Malaikovil,
Agraharam, A.N. Mangalam, (P.O.)
Karippatti Via, Salem – 636 106.
For more information please visit: http://lourduannai-salem.org/