Diocese of Palai
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Population

The total population of the diocesan territory is 663, 000 (as per the Census of 2001). Palai has been a multi-ethnic and multi religious town. Christians form the largest community followed by Hindus and Muslims respectively.

Kottayam district has the largest presence of Christian population. Since Christianity found a firm foothold here, Kottayam also saw its many offshoots. As a result Kottayam is now the headquarters of the Malankara Orthodox Church, the Syrian Church and the Jacobites, as well as the catholic divisions of the Knanaya Church. It has been found that the highest density of Catholics in the world, after the Philippines, is in Meenachil, one of the taluks in Kottayam districts.

The most popular Christian pilgrimage centre in Kerala namely Bharanaganam comes under the Diocese of Palai. The first Indian Saint, St. Alphonsa, lived here and her mortal remains are kept in a chapel next to St. Mary's Church, Bharananganam.

Language

Languages Malayalam and English are in use.

History

The diocese of Palai belongs to Syro Malabar Rite. The diocese has an area of 1, 166 square kilometers comprising the Meenachil Taluk and few villages of the neighboring Taluks in Kottayam, Ernakulam and Idukki districts of Central Kerala. The Catholics of the diocese belongs to the ancient St. Thomas Christian Community.

In the North the diocese of Palai borders to the Dioceses of Moovattupuzha (Malankara diocese) and Kothamangalam diocese, to the South it adjoins to Changanassery archdiocese and Kanjirappally diocese, in the East to Idukki and Kanjirapally diocese and in the West to the Archdiocese of Ernakulam.

Pope Pius XII established the diocese of Palai bifurcating the Eparchy of Changanacherry and out of the territory covered by the then Foranes of Palai, Muttuchira, Kuravilangad, Anakkallu and Ramapuram, on July 25, 1950 through the Bull "Quo Ecclesiarum". The Diocese of Palai was erected as a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam. The then Apostolic Nuncio in India, Archbishop Leo P. Kierkels installed Mar Sebastian Vayalil as the first Bishop of the new eparchy. Epharchy of Changanacherry was elevated to the status of Archeparchy and constituted the new ecclesiastical province of Changanacherry on Aug. 22, 1956. Thus the diocese of Palai became one of its suffragans.

Palai is a town in the district of Kottayam. Kottayam district came into being in 1949. The word Kottayam means 'Kottayakam', interior of fort.

Transportation

The territory is well connected with roads. The district has daily train services to all major cities of the country. The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport which is nearly 70 kilometers from the diocesan headquarters.

Climate

The diocesan territory has equatorial climate, hot and humid. The most important rainy season is during the South West Monsoon which sets in the first week of June and extends up to September. The Northeast Monsoon extends from the second half of October through November. The average annual rainfall is 2,840 mm. During December to March, practically no rain is received and from October onwards, the temperature gradually increases to reach the maximum in May, which is the hottest month of the year. The maximum temperature in the month of May comes to 34 degrees Celsius.

Economy

Economy The economy of Palai diocese is mainly based on agriculture. A major part of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Rubber is the main cash crop. Coconuts, coca, pepper, vanilla and coffee are other major cultivations. The Christians in the diocese is financially well off. Major industries related to the processing of rubber latex and manufacturing of rubber products. Tourism has a major contribution to the district of Kottayam. Kottayam is the nerve centre of Kerala's newspapers, with five major dailies being published from here.

Telecommunication

The level of telecommunications infrastructure is high. Almost everyone has a mobile phone. Most of the homes have television and telephone and internet. In rural areas access to internet is limited. There are no television and radio broadcasting stations in the diocesan territory.

Education

Literacy rate in the diocesan territory is 95.90%, higher than the national average of 59.5%.

Administration

Kottayam district consists of two Revenue Divisions Kottayam and Palai. There are 5 taluks in the district and Meenachil is one among them. Palai diocese belongs to Meenachil taluk in the district of Kottayam and is administered by Municipality, headed by a Chairperson.