St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Palayur in Kerala, a southern state of India, is the Oldest Indian Church.
The Syro-Malabar Church is an Apostolic Church which traces its origin to the St. Thomas, the Apostle, who landed at Cranganore (Muziris) in 52 AD and founded seven Christian communities in Kerala, at Palayur, Cranganore, Kokkamangalam, Kottakavu (Parur), Quilon, Niranam, and Chayal.
St. Thomas was martyred in A.D. 72 at Mylapore, near Chennai/Madras.
The early Christian community in India was known as St. Thomas Christians.
They were also called Nazranis, meaning those who follow the path of Jesus of Nazareth.
Today the Syro-Malabar Church is the second largest Eastern Church in Catholic communion and constitutes the largest group of St. Thomas Christians.
The original small Church structure has been retained at the oldest site.
The other two Catholic Churches in India are the Latin Church and the Syro-Malankara Church.
The Syro-Malabar Church is very actively involved in educational, social and health-related fields.
The Syro-Malabar Church runs 4860 educational, 262 ecclesiastical and 2614 health and charitable institutions.
The corporate contribution of this oldest Indian church to nation-building is inestimable.
A major festival that is held every year at the venue of the church, which lasts for two days, has a striking similarity to the Hindu festival held at Trichhur (district town 28 kilometres away from the church) on the same days, with lot of fan fare of pageants, orchestra and pyrotechnics.