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HISTORY OF KUWAIT KANANAYA CULTURAL ASSOCIATION (KKCA)

The First Expatriate Knanaya Catholic Association.

Kuwait Knanaya Cultural Association is the first Knanaya Catholic Association formed outside India and is one of the pioneer active Malayalee Association in Kuwait. KKCA consist of people from a prosperous, close-knit Knanaya community, with rich cultural heritage and traditions, descendants of a small missionary and enterprising community, migrated from Kana (Edessa), in Middle East, to Kodungallor in Kerala in AD 345, under the wise leadership of Knai Thomman, a prominent businessman of that time. Since then the knanaya community witnessed a miraculous growth, leading to further migration across the world, including Kuwait and other Middle East Countries.

Knanaites had made their presence in Kuwait since 1949 onwards. They used to have unofficial gatherings which included members from Kanaya Catholics and Knanaya Jacobites once in every 4 months mostly at the residence of Late Mr. Joseph Madathilettu (who was also known as “Dental Joseph”). As there was no permission from the Kuwait Government to form associations, they continued to have these unofficial gatherings for more than a decade. A greater demand for giving a formal name for such unofficial gatherings became paramount at the beginning of early Seventies, and accordingly they named it “Kuwait Kananya Cultural Association”, which included members from Kannaya Catholics and Knanaya Jacobites and elected Mr. Joseph Madathilettu as its first President (The term “Cultural” was used to connote both Knanaya Catholics and Knanaya Jacobites).

By 1975, the number of the Kanaya Catholics increased comparatively in Kuwait and there aroused a greater demand for a separate association for the Knanaya Catholics alone. Accordingly Kuwait Knanaya Catholic Association came into existence within the same year and Mr. P.C. Mathew Poozhikunnel became its first President who had the full support and guidance of Mr. Joseph Madathilettu. Formation of KKCA was considered as a big inspiration and encouragement for formation of various other Indian Associations in Kuwait at a time when there were restrictions in formation of associations by Kuwait Government.

In 1984, Kuwait Government gave official permission for formation of associations but continued its restrictions for religious ones. In March, 1984, a committee was formed to draft a constitution for an association that belonged to the members from Kottayam Archdiocese alone. Three months later, in June, 1984, KKCA’s constitution was finalized and approved. Hence the current “Kuwait Knanaya Cultural Association” came into existence on the 1st of July 1984. Mr. P.C. Mathew Poozhikunnel continued to be its president until he returned to India in 1987. Mr. T.P Jacob (Thodukayil Chakochan) became the next president in 1988 and he continued until the Iraqi invasion in 1990.

After the Iraqi invasion in 1990, Knanaites started to come back to Kuwait in November 1992 and through the efforts of many people, like Mr. Kuryachan Puthenkalam (Kremenco Kurian), Simon Neichery, Jose Parettu, Thomas Pallikkara etc., KKCA was re-established by the end of 1993 but had lost all her previous records and files. Since then, the strength of association continued to grow bigger. In 1995 KKCA got the approval of Indian Embassy as a Cultural Association. The Emergency relief fund was established in 1996. Mar Abraham Viruthikulangara, the current Archbishop of Nagpur visited Kuwait as the guest of KKCA in May 1997. The visit of Archbishop Mar Mathew Moolakkatt to Kuwait in 2001 was a big motivation for the association members. The first directory of KKCA Members was published in 2001. Onam was celebrated with the presence of MP Sri Francis George in 2006. Professor George Kanattu, President of Knanaya Catholic Congress visited Kuwait on 26th June 2006. His Lordship Mar Joseph Pandaraseril, the Auxiliary Bishop of Kottayam Archdiocese visited Kuwait during the Onam celebration in 2007 and released a new directory of KKCA.

The Inauguration of KKCA’s Silver Jubilee Celebration was held on 19 August 2008 with the presence of Bishop Camillo Ballin, the patron of KKCA and senior members. KKCA celebrated its Silver Jubilee at a spectacular ceremony held on 12th of December 2008 together with Knanaya Catholic Congress Middle East Convention (on 11th, 12th & 13th Dec.2008). Free Medical Camp, Symposium, KCC-ME Convention, Special thanks giving Mass, releasing of Silver Jubilee Souvenir cum Directory, Cultural Extravaganza etc. were the main attractions of the event. Several dignitaries, like the Apostolic Nuncio to Kuwait Archbishop Mounged El Hachem, Archbishop Mathew Moolakkatt, Minister Mons Joseph, MLA Thomas Chazhikadan etc. had come to grace this mega event besides representatives from various Kananaya Association from around the world, especially from the Middle East region.

In 2009, KKCA renewed its registration with the Indian Embassy Kuwait and the current Reg. No. is INDEMB/KWT/ASSN/117. His Excellency Mr. Ajay Malhotra, the Ambassador of India to Kuwait was the Chief Guest for the Onam celebrations and His Lordship Mar Joseph Pandaraseril, the Auxiliary Bishop of Kottayam Archdiocese was the Chief Guest for the Christmas and New Year celebrations of 2009. To cater to the overall development of our children, Kuwait Kanaya Children’s League (KKCL) was formed in 26th March 2010 which has become a platform for them to develop their potential talents and capabilities. Through the help of KKCA, they conduct various programs, seminars and various other personality development activities. KKCA had the privilege of having His Excellency Mr. Ajay Malhotra, the Ambassador of India to Kuwait as its Chief Guest for the Onam celebration in 2010 too.

At the beginning of 2011, KKCA re-organized its prayer groups in the model of “Koodarayogams” held in our home diocese and currently there are 7 Koodarayogam units in Kuwait which conducts prayers and various activities on a regular monthly basis. Each Koodarayogam has got its Conveners to lead and organize its activities. KKCA, celebrated the Centenary of Kottayam Archdiocese at a mega event held on 27th of May 2011. His Lordship Mar George Palliparambil, the Bishop of Miao was the special guest for the event. The Apostolic Nuncio His Grace Peter Rajic, His Lordship Camillo Ballin etc. were the other dignitaries who had graced the event. KKCA’s website was launched during the public meeting and a new souvenir cum directory was released to commemorate the celebrations. A revised and elaborated bylaws of the association was approved during this general body meeting and also established the Insurance scheme for its members (Family Sureksha Scheme). In 2012 KKCA witnessed the visit of Retired Supreme Court Judge of India Mr. Cyriac Joseph, a prominent leader of the Knanaya Catholic Community.

On 3rd May 2013, KKCA conducted successfully, the First Knanaya Kalolsavam at United India School, Abbassiya. A special Thanks giving Mass was celebrated at the Kuwait Cathedral Church on 18th September by the knanaya Bishop Rev. Dr. James Thoppil of Kohima Diocese as KKCA entered into its 30th Anniversary. The inauguration of the 30th Anniversary celebrations and Onam Fest 2013 was held as a mega event on 20th September 2013 at Salmiya Indian School (SIMS). A souvenir was released to mark the occasion, Prizes were distributed to the winners of the 1st Knanaya Kalolsavam during this event. Knanaya Rally based on Koodarayogams (Prayer Groups) was the main attraction of the event. His Excellency the Ambassador of India Mr. Satish C Mehta, His Lordship Bishop James Thoppil and other prominent personalities from Kuwait attended the event.

Credited with around 1500 strong members in this tiny country, the Association’s activities are no longer limited to just 3 minimum yearly gatherings; picnics are organized, association’s News Letters are published regularly, stage cultural programs are organized, participation in inter-association activities, engaging in several community and charitable activities for the welfare of the needy and downtrodden, social welfare activities, organizing and conducting prayers with the help of local priests for various purposes, visiting the sick, visiting labor camps, conducting medical camps, special financial and other helps for the needy people, regular monthly koodarayogams, etc., have become the agenda of KKCA. Special programs for our children are organized every year during School Holidays and at different occasions.

KKCA is privileged to have the blessings and guidance of its Patron His Lordship Camillo Ballin, the Vicar Apostolic of Northern Arabia, His Grace Mar Mathew Moolakkatt the Archbishop of Kottayam Archdiocese and His Lordship Mar Joseph Pandarasseril, the Auxiliary Bishop of Kottayam Archdiocese.

Currently, KKCA stands out as a major Malayalee Christian Association in Kuwait, a concrete symbol of the unity and cultural identity of the Knanaya Catholics. KKCA also shines as an inspiration and model for the formation of various other Knanaya Associations throughout the world. KKCA through its activities, works hard to strengthen the bonds of unity that already exist among its members and as well as to rejuvenate, present, sustain, preserve and pass it on to our new generations, the rich cultural heritages and customs that, the community has been following since AD 345 while upholding the Catholic Faith.

The First Expatriate Knanaya Catholic Association.

Kuwait Knanaya Cultural Association is the first Knanaya Catholic Association formed outside India and is one of the pioneer active Malayalee Association in Kuwait. KKCA consist of people from a prosperous, close-knit Knanaya community, with rich cultural heritage and traditions, descendants of a small missionary and enterprising community, migrated from Kana (Edessa), in Middle East, to Kodungallor in Kerala in AD 345, under the wise leadership of Knai Thomman, a prominent businessman of that time. Since then the knanaya community witnessed a miraculous growth, leading to further migration across the world, including Kuwait and other Middle East Countries.
Knanaites had made their presence in Kuwait since 1949 onwards. They used to have unofficial gatherings which included members from Kanaya Catholics and Knanaya Jacobites once in every 4 months mostly at the residence of Late Mr. Joseph Madathilettu (who was also known as “Dental Joseph”). As there was no permission from the Kuwait Government to form associations, they continued to have these unofficial gatherings for more than a decade. A greater demand for giving a formal name for such unofficial gatherings became paramount at the beginning of early Seventies, and accordingly they named it “Kuwait Kananya Cultural Association”, which included members from Kannaya Catholics and Knanaya Jacobites and elected Mr. Joseph Madathilettu as its first President (The term “Cultural” was used to connote both Knanaya Catholics and Knanaya Jacobites).

By 1975, the number of the Kanaya Catholics increased comparatively in Kuwait and there aroused a greater demand for a separate association for the Knanaya Catholics alone. Accordingly Kuwait Knanaya Catholic Association came into existence within the same year and Mr. P.C. Mathew Poozhikunnel became its first President who had the full support and guidance of Mr. Joseph Madathilettu. Formation of KKCA was considered as a big inspiration and encouragement for formation of various other Indian Associations in Kuwait at a time when there were restrictions in formation of associations by Kuwait Government.

In 1984, Kuwait Government gave official permission for formation of associations but continued its restrictions for religious ones. In March, 1984, a committee was formed to draft a constitution for an association that belonged to the members from Kottayam Archdiocese alone. Three months later, in June, 1984, KKCA’s constitution was finalized and approved. Hence the current “Kuwait Knanaya Cultural Association” came into existence on the 1st of July 1984. Mr. P.C. Mathew Poozhikunnel continued to be its president until he returned to India in 1987. Mr. T.P Jacob (Thodukayil Chakochan) became the next president in 1988 and he continued until the Iraqi invasion in 1990.

After the Iraqi invasion in 1990, Knanaites started to come back to Kuwait in November 1992 and through the efforts of many people, like Mr. Kuryachan Puthenkalam (Kremenco Kurian), Simon Neichery, Jose Parettu, Thomas Pallikkara etc., KKCA was re-established by the end of 1993 but had lost all her previous records and files. Since then, the strength of association continued to grow bigger. In 1995 KKCA got the approval of Indian Embassy as a Cultural Association. The Emergency relief fund was established in 1996. Mar Abraham Viruthikulangara, the current Archbishop of Nagpur visited Kuwait as the guest of KKCA in May 1997. The visit of Archbishop Mar Mathew Moolakkatt to Kuwait in 2001 was a big motivation for the association members. The first directory of KKCA Members was published in 2001. Onam was celebrated with the presence of MP Sri Francis George in 2006. Professor George Kanattu, President of Knanaya Catholic Congress visited Kuwait on 26th June 2006. His Lordship Mar Joseph Pandaraseril, the Auxiliary Bishop of Kottayam Archdiocese visited Kuwait during the Onam celebration in 2007 and released a new directory of KKCA.

The Inauguration of KKCA’s Silver Jubilee Celebration was held on 19 August 2008 with the presence of Bishop Camillo Ballin, the patron of KKCA and senior members. KKCA celebrated its Silver Jubilee at a spectacular ceremony held on 12th of December 2008 together with Knanaya Catholic Congress Middle East Convention (on 11th, 12th & 13th Dec.2008). Free Medical Camp, Symposium, KCC-ME Convention, Special thanks giving Mass, releasing of Silver Jubilee Souvenir cum Directory, Cultural Extravaganza etc. were the main attractions of the event. Several dignitaries, like the Apostolic Nuncio to Kuwait Archbishop Mounged El Hachem, Archbishop Mathew Moolakkatt, Minister Mons Joseph, MLA Thomas Chazhikadan etc. had come to grace this mega event besides representatives from various Kananaya Association from around the world, especially from the Middle East region.

In 2009, KKCA renewed its registration with the Indian Embassy Kuwait and the current Reg. No. is INDEMB/KWT/ASSN/117. His Excellency Mr. Ajay Malhotra, the Ambassador of India to Kuwait was the Chief Guest for the Onam celebrations and His Lordship Mar Joseph Pandaraseril, the Auxiliary Bishop of Kottayam Archdiocese was the Chief Guest for the Christmas and New Year celebrations of 2009. To cater to the overall development of our children, Kuwait Kanaya Children’s League (KKCL) was formed in 26th March 2010 which has become a platform for them to develop their potential talents and capabilities. Through the help of KKCA, they conduct various programs, seminars and various other personality development activities. KKCA had the privilege of having His Excellency Mr. Ajay Malhotra, the Ambassador of India to Kuwait as its Chief Guest for the Onam celebration in 2010 too.

At the beginning of 2011, KKCA re-organized its prayer groups in the model of “Koodarayogams” held in our home diocese and currently there are 7 Koodarayogam units in Kuwait which conducts prayers and various activities on a regular monthly basis. Each Koodarayogam has got its Conveners to lead and organize its activities. KKCA, celebrated the Centenary of Kottayam Archdiocese at a mega event held on 27th of May 2011. His Lordship Mar George Palliparambil, the Bishop of Miao was the special guest for the event. The Apostolic Nuncio His Grace Peter Rajic, His Lordship Camillo Ballin etc. were the other dignitaries who had graced the event. KKCA’s website was launched during the public meeting and a new souvenir cum directory was released to commemorate the celebrations. A revised and elaborated bylaws of the association was approved during this general body meeting and also established the Insurance scheme for its members (Family Sureksha Scheme). In 2012 KKCA witnessed the visit of Retired Supreme Court Judge of India Mr. Cyriac Joseph, a prominent leader of the Knanaya Catholic Community.

On 3rd May 2013, KKCA conducted successfully, the First Knanaya Kalolsavam at United India School, Abbassiya. A special Thanks giving Mass was celebrated at the Kuwait Cathedral Church on 18th September by the knanaya Bishop Rev. Dr. James Thoppil of Kohima Diocese as KKCA entered into its 30th Anniversary. The inauguration of the 30th Anniversary celebrations and Onam Fest 2013 was held as a mega event on 20th September 2013 at Salmiya Indian School (SIMS). A souvenir was released to mark the occasion, Prizes were distributed to the winners of the 1st Knanaya Kalolsavam during this event. Knanaya Rally based on Koodarayogams (Prayer Groups) was the main attraction of the event. His Excellency the Ambassador of India Mr. Satish C Mehta, His Lordship Bishop James Thoppil and other prominent personalities from Kuwait attended the event.

Credited with around 1500 strong members in this tiny country, the Association’s activities are no longer limited to just 3 minimum yearly gatherings; picnics are organized, association’s News Letters are published regularly, stage cultural programs are organized, participation in inter-association activities, engaging in several community and charitable activities for the welfare of the needy and downtrodden, social welfare activities, organizing and conducting prayers with the help of local priests for various purposes, visiting the sick, visiting labor camps, conducting medical camps, special financial and other helps for the needy people, regular monthly koodarayogams, etc., have become the agenda of KKCA. Special programs for our children are organized every year during School Holidays and at different occasions.

KKCA is privileged to have the blessings and guidance of its Patron His Lordship Camillo Ballin, the Vicar Apostolic of Northern Arabia, His Grace Mar Mathew Moolakkatt the Archbishop of Kottayam Archdiocese and His Lordship Mar Joseph Pandarasseril, the Auxiliary Bishop of Kottayam Archdiocese.

Currently, KKCA stands out as a major Malayalee Christian Association in Kuwait, a concrete symbol of the unity and cultural identity of the Knanaya Catholics. KKCA also shines as an inspiration and model for the formation of various other Knanaya Associations throughout the world. KKCA through its activities, works hard to strengthen the bonds of unity that already exist among its members and as well as to rejuvenate, present, sustain, preserve and pass it on to our new generations, the rich cultural heritages and customs that, the community has been following since AD 345 while upholding the Catholic Faith.