Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara Included in Kerala Textbooks as a Social Reformer

Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara Included in Kerala Textbooks as a Social Reformer

The new seventh-grade social studies textbook in Kerala has included Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara among the early social reformers of the state. In the fourth chapter of the new textbook, Chavara Achan is listed among prominent figures.

The list of social reformers includes Sree Narayana Guru, Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Ayyavu Vaikundar, Chattampi Swamikal, Vakkom Abdul Khader Moulavi, Poikayil Yohannan, Pandit K.P. Karuppan, and Dakshayani Velayudhan in that order.

There had been widespread protests over not including Chavara Achan, who played a significant role in social reform in Kerala even before Sree Narayana Guru, in this list.

Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara was an Indian Catholic priest and social reformer. He was a social reformer who initiated reforms in Kerala.

He played a major role in educating and uplifting people especially of the lower ranks of society. He started an institution for Sanskrit studies at Kerala in 1846 and took the initiative to start a school in a nearby villages.

St. Chavara was the first Indian who not only dared to admit the untouchables to schools but also provided them with Sanskrit education which was forbidden to the lower castes, thereby challenging social bans based on caste, as early as the former part of the 19th century.

Kuriakose Chavara introduced midday meals in the schools especially for the Dalits and poor children. It was his original idea that inspired many to implement midday meal in all government run schools. This practice is continued even today in government schools in India.

Saint Chavara understood that without proper education none of his efforts for the renewal of the Church and the transformation of the society would be effective.

He knew the importance of Sanskrit in the cultural background of our country. He welcomed the every child as a student irrespective of their caste and creed, or whether they were rich and poor.

Kuriakose Elias Chavara died on 3 January 1871, aged 66. Holy Father Pope Francis declared Kuriakose Elias Chavara a saint on 23 November 2014.

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