FEBRUARY 5, 2013


A novel feature at St. Thomas Basilica


July 3, 2011



Left and right: The St. Thomas’ Cathedral’s flag pole. Centre: The same at a Hindu temple in Kerala


90-feet-high flag pole has been erected in the precincts of St. Thomas Basilica (Santhome Church). Made of panchalogam**, it has been coated with a special kind of brass which will protect it from corrosion for the next 10 years.

At the bottom of the flag mast, figures of Jesus, Mother Mary, St. Thomas and St. Antony have been carved.

On July 2, after a grand procession, this panchaloga flag mast was blessed by Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa. Also the festivities of St. Thomas feast, which began on June 24 ends today. To mark this event, Dr. Rev. Lawrence Pius will lower the flag and conclude the celebrations.

This flag mast has been donated by a real estate businessman, Maria Robin of Tirunelveli. According to Mr. Robin, his business started flourishing after he began to frequent the basilica. As a thanksgiving gesture, he has put up this flag mast at a cost of Rs. 12 lakhs.

“This is the first time such a mast is being put up in the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore,” says Rev. Fr. Kanickai Raj, Rector and Parish Priest of the National Shrine of St. Thomas Basilica.

Explains the priest: Now we can hoist the flag during festivals. It is a sign of carrying forward our prayers. It also denotes that all those who grace the festival are part of the celebrations and will be praying for the welfare of mankind.


Indian-styled flag mast for Cathedral

The Mylapore Times, July 2-8, 2011

new flag mast has been erected at the National Shrine
Saint Thomas, San Thome. This new pole is 60 feet tall and has a diameter of 1½ feet. The core of the pillar is made of concrete and iron rods and this core is covered with brass fittings. The base is made of granite, says Rajasekar, the person who was overseeing the erection of the pole.

This flag mast is in the style of the masts at Hindu temples. Many churches in coastal and southern Tamil Nadu sport such traditional flag masts. Fr. Kanikairaj, parish priest at the San Thome Cathedral says that the new mast is a donation made by a Catholic from Kanyakumari.



Three letters to the editor in the Mylapore Times of July 16-22, 2011:

Another example of Christian appropriation of Hindu elements. There is now Christian Yoga, Christian Carnatic music, Christian Bharatanatyam, and now Christian Dwajastambha!

It was once rightly said by a Hindu leader: If Indianisation of Christianity is done for Christianisation of India, then Hindus have a real cause for worry*.

Funny the editor calls it Indian-style. Isn’t it Hindu?

*Most Hindus are naïve about the true reality. As I have documented in dozens of reports, this is neither the Indianisation of Christianity nor the Christianisation of India but the Hinduisation of Christianity. -Michael


On his blog, Srini Swaminathan says it all, with the picture of the flag mast, in two words: “Really now!”

Really now! Dhvaja sthambam (flag pole) at the Santhome Church!


By Srini Swaminathan, November 2011



**panchalogam or panchaloha in the superstitious Hindu tradition
consists of five metals combined in specifically laid down proportions and circumstances as laid down in the Sastras;
“panch” means five and “loha” means metal.



Panchaloha idols are mostly found in Hindu temples in India. The five metals are gold, silver, copper, zinc and iron. The percentage of metals used is 1 portion of silver, 1 portion of gold, 5 portions of copper, 2 portions of zinc and a 1 portion of iron. This percentage is only to give a general idea and might vary from region to region. Craftsmen from Padoli always prefer customers to bring all the high cost metals like gold and silver when we melt panchaloha to pour it in to the mould of god on an auspicious day. The dates for melting the panchaloha will be informed in advance to the customer. Panchaloha idols are worshipped for thousands of years in Hindu temples in India.



Silpasastras prescribe the composition of the alloy to be chosen for casting sacred icons. Archaeologists have excavated icons and idols proving that for the last 3,000 years, panchaloha (literally meaning an alloy of five metals) has been most widely used for making icons and idols. This five-metal combination of Cu, Au, Ag, Pb, and Zn was considered to be a highly auspicious composition and is still used for icons cast for worship.


The dhvaja sthambam or dvaja stambha is the
Hindu temple’s flag mast… and more; the Sanskrit word for flag is “dhvaja.


Please let me know the importance of Dvaja Sthamba in Vaisnava Temples. Why do we have this and I have seen that Brahmotsavam begins with a Puja to Dvaja Sthambam. Why?

Dhvaja Stambha, or Flag Staff, is an important feature of most South Indian Temples. In North Indian Temples, flags are hoisted from a section of the main temple and rarely do we see a separate flag pole or Dhwaja Stambha. The flag staff is located in front of the Sanctum. A Dhvaja Stambha usually represents the prosperity and pride of a temple but some texts do suggest that the bottom of a flag post symbolizes Shiva, middle portion Brahma and the top portion Vishnu.
A permanent Dvaja Stambha is believed to be a later addition to the Hindu Temple. Initially, it was temporary and was primarily used to indicate the beginning of a festival or other auspicious days and occasions.
Today, Dvaja Stambhas are a permanent feature in many south Indian temples and are gold or silver plated or covered with copper or brass. The top portion of the flag staff in some temples in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has three horizontal perches or three branches pointing towards the Sanctum. It symbolizes righteousness, reputation and propriety or the Trimurtis – Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. Usually, a Bali Pitha is located near to the Dvaja Stambha and the Sanctum.
But the three branches are not widely found in the temples in Kerala. Instead, in Kerala Temples it is a single straight pole.
There is a widespread belief that the Dvaja Stambha gives an idea to a devotee from a long distance about the idol installed in the temple and about the vahana or vehicle used by the deity. It also announces about a festival in a temple. Flags are usually hoisted when there is an auspicious ceremony or festival in the temple.



Dhwaja Stambha is a tall post-like structure, which is referred to as the flag-mast of the deity of the temple. During festivities, the Dhwaja Stambha is decorated with different types of flags to commemorate and celebrate that particular event. The Dhwaja Stambha is present in a straight line from the deity, just before the vahana of the deity, which is also in the same axial line. Most Hindu Temples have a Dhwaja Stambham in front of the temple. Temple worship starts from this point. You may see worshippers touching this pillar. Some may go around this one to three times. Devotees prostrate on the ground in front of this pillar. This symbolizes complete surrender of ones ego in veneration of the Lord. These are traditional ways of offering one’s respect to God. Some may place their palms and fingers of both the hands together, hold the hands around the base of Dhwaja Stambham, and meditate on God. This is a very common way of offering respect to God. When you go into the Temple, you will see more worshippers doing this. Prostrating from Dhwaja Stambha is a traditional expression of worshipful surrender and adoration.

Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India

1 reply

  1. The flagpole in churches I observed for the last 5 decades in Kerala, this is using during church annual festivals for flag hosting but the brass covered one seeing for the last 5 years only, Some manufacturers of this items in temples may be done marketing very well through newly build churches.

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