The Punkah

Most places in the middle-east region are air-conditioned. While central air-conditioning is seldom in such places a window AC is a minimum. Given the harsh heat during most part of the year, this would not be deemed as a luxury but a mere necessity.

Air-conditioning is not so popular in places of worships in India. Imagine the times before electricity. People might have used hand-held fans. Then there was the Punkah.

Punkah, similar to the one seen here inside the Saint Francis Church in Fort Kochi, India, were operated by dedicated punkah-pullers. Vasco da Gama, the first Portuguese sailor to reach the shores of Kerala, was initially buried inside this church. Old movies depicted them sleeping while still one of their hands pulled the punkah incessantly lest their master would feel the discomfort of sweat.


In this case, the congregation could attend a sermon and listen to the word of God in full comfort. The electric ceiling fans came much later dealing away with the Punkah-pullers.



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