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When the people of Vypin saw Kurian working on Gandhian and Sarvodaya principles, they spontaneously added the fond appellation “Sarvodayam” to his name. He humbly accepted the popular title and it further motivated him to do more. Thus for some 50 years of his life, he was known both in Kerala and abroad as the one and only Sarvodayam Kurian.
Kurian Parackal of Narakkal, Kerala, strictly a Gandhian (follower of Mohnadas K. Gandhi) was never a card holding member of the Sarvodaya movement which worked to promote the kind of society that Gandhiji envisioned. Kurian’s social work among the needy, poor and helpless, and the common people included Gandhian methods of padayathra (walk for a cause) and sathyagraha (form of non-violent social and political struggle which includes even fast unto death).
Kurian Parakal, son of Cherian Parakal and Alice Parakal was born at Narakkal on 11th January, 1920. Kurian was the second among seven children for the family (4 brothers and 3 sisters). Kurian’s early years had several ups and more of downs, compelling him to shoulder responsibility of the family, since he lost his father at a young age.
Though Kurian was born on 11th January, his birth day is celebrated on 2nd October – Gandhi Jayanti day to honour his inspiration Mahathma Gandhi.
Kurian married Celine Kurian on 3rd June 1952 and was blessed with five children, three boys and two girls.
All his children are well settled in different parts of the world. Majority of them are in India. Kurian’s younger brother Mr. Anthony Parakal is a Ginnes Book of Records and Limca Book of Records holder for writing “Letters to the Editor” since 1952, highlighting social issues and in turn help solving them. Mr. Anthony Parakal is settled in Mumbai.
Kurian had a short stint in the army during the World War II, which took him to Nagaland and then to British Ceylon where he joined the Red Cross. After WW II, Kurian decided to stay back in Narakkal, to fight a different kind of war against natural and human disasters.
Kurian enjoyed speaking engagements and took short classes on social work (from his personal experiences) for junior school and colleges students as well as various seminars for different social and religious groups, even beyond Vypin Island.
Kurian would not hesitate to travel to these areas to do whatever he could to ease their suffering by distributing dress, food, medicine and cash which he gathered from generous Islanders.
Following the footsteps of Gandhiji, Kurian lead a simple life with absolutely no luxury. He wore hand woven (khadi) white shirt and dhoti. His favourite mode of transport was bicycle (two wheeler) which he enjoyed riding kilometers after kilometers. His trade mark was carrying foundling infant on his shoulder on bicycle. This ride could even start from southern tip of Vypin at Munambam or Parur in the north (7 to 14 kilometers) away. Kurian’s day started as early as 5 am and could carry on till late night as and when required.
By the time people start their daily life (9 am ), Kurian has done the majority of the job of the day, like visiting sick people, attending the hospital wards, cleaning the hospital compounds and toilets… Between 9.00 am and 10.00 am, Kurian visits different school assembly’s addressing the students, where he is always welcome.