Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Memory remains

In 1718, Arumugam, the son of a Cuddalore merchant, was forced to leave his family and move to Tarangambadi. Arumugam had earlier studied at the Mission School in Cuddalore and had been influenced by books on Christianity; in Tarangambadi, he was baptized by Ziegenbalg, the first Lutheran missionary in India. Arumugam took on the name S. Aaron - the S most likely referencing Savarimuthu, the teacher who introduced him to Christianity. Savarimuthu was also one of the candidates, along with Aaron, who was considered to be ordained as the first native pastor; the teacher withdrew his candidature in favour of his student. Thus, in 1733, Aaron became the first Indian protestant pastor.

Aaron's great-grandson seems to have taken after him. In 1863, we see William Thomas Sathianadhan being assigned to the Chintadripet Church. He established himself in this position, and seems to have done much for the people to remember him by.  After his passing, the Chintadripet Church - by now renamed the Zion Church - constructed a meeting hall in his memory.

Going down the Arunachala Mudali Street in Chintadripet today, you will most likely miss this building; it stands way too close to the road and you would rather pay attention to the traffic than let your eyes wander up this facade. But if you choose to pause, and wonder, I am sure it will be worth your time!

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