‘St. Thomas Christians and Nambudiris, Jews and Sangam Literature – A Historical Appraisal’, Bosco Puthur (Editor)
Jul26

‘St. Thomas Christians and Nambudiris, Jews and Sangam Literature – A Historical Appraisal’, Bosco Puthur (Editor)

‘St. Thomas Christians and Nambudiris, Jews and Sangam Literature – A Historical Appraisal’, Bosco Puthur (Editor) INTRODUCTION The present volume is the result of a modest venture of the Liturgical Research Centre of the Syro-Malabar Church to study the history of St. Thomas Christians, especially against the background of the early history of the Nambudiri Brahmins and Jews in Kerala (Malabar) and the famous literary work, the Sangam Literature. The study is a sincere attempt to search the roots of this unique Christian community in order to better understand it’s identity and to situate it with more relevance in the present day world. The book contains the research papers, responses and observations presented in the three seminars on historical questions conducted by the Liturgical Research Centre and published in a very orderly manner which makes it one of the ideal books on many different subjects concerning Thomasine Christian history during various periods and that which can be easily understood by a lay person. Though there are many different topics by various renowned authors and experts, the main thrust of the book is to unravel the early history of the St. Thomas Christian community, by juxtaposing them all, which gives a clearer picture of the community’s early history. The contents of the volume are interesting, thought-provoking and even challenging, with an unbiased approach towards history alongwith many reliable references provided, as one sees in the volume, hence, the reliability of the work is also assured. CONTENTS St. Thomas Christians: A Historical Analysis of their Origin and Development up to 9th Century AD – Pius Malekandathil. St. Thomas Christians: A Historical Analysis of their Origin and Development up to 9th Century AD – Dr. Pius Malekandathil : A Response – A. Mathias Mundadan CMI. St. Thomas Christians in Malabar from the 9th to the 16th Centuries – K. S. Mathew. Response to Dr. K. S. Mathew’s Paper : St. Thomas Christians in Malabar from the 9th to the 16th Centuries – Joseph Kolengadan (Nityasatyananda). Nambudiris : Migrations and Early Settlements in Kerala – M. G. S. Narayanan. History/Story : No Last Words : A Response – Scaria Zacharia St. Thomas Christians and Nambudiri Brahmins : A Note – Rajan Gurukkal The Nambudiri Community : A History – Kesavan Veluthat The Jews in Kerala – P. M. Jussay The Jews in Kerala : A Response – Samuel H. Hallegua The Jews in Kerala : A Response – A. Mathias Mundadan CMI Sangam Literature and its Relevance – SIRPI Balasubramaniam Sangam Literature and Christian Elements – R. Balachandran Sangam Literature and Christianity : A Response – P. K. George SJ Early Tamil Oral,...

Read More
Lifestyle of Kerala Syrian Christians
Apr15

Lifestyle of Kerala Syrian Christians

The way of life or lifestyle of the Syrian Christians of Kerala or St. Thomas Christians or Nasranis, as they are called, is best described by the term ‘Margavasis’ or ‘Followers of the Margam (Path)’ used by them, and speaks for their identity as one of the most distinct and a unique community of Christians. The Thomasine connection and their Jewish or Hebraic heritage in a well blended local keralite culture and atmosphere speaks for their lifestyle. It may be recalled that the Nasranis who confronted the Western Christians described their way of life as ‘Marthomayude Margavum Vazhipatum’ or ‘The Way and Traditions of St.Thomas’. They said: “We follow the way of Thomas and you follow the way of Peter” to distinguish themselves from the western christians. The Canon of the Synod of Diamper (1599) bears testimony to this declaration of the community members. Social Culture and Lifestyle of Kerala Syrian Christians St. Thomas Christians were classified into the caste system in accordance with the Hindu tradition, with special privileges for trade, granted by the benevolent Hindu kings and were considered at par with the upper-caste Hindus of Kerala in nobility. People in Hindu kingdoms, regardless of religion, were expected to strictly abide by stringent rules pertaining to caste and religion. This is why St. Thomas Christians had such a strong sense of caste and tradition, being the oldest order of Christianity in India and thus shared many social customs in common with their Hindu neighbours. Many Syrian Christian practices are distinctively eastern and early western missionaries found them primitive and ignorant in their point of view terming them as heretics. The caste consciousness is prevalent till today among the Nasranis. There are many other Hindu traditions followed by Christians such as dowry system, decorations with rice flower, forty-one day observance after a death in the family. The ceremonies after child-birth, like initial feeding of the newborn with powdered gold and honey, solemn rice feeding (Chorunnu ceremony), tying of an amulet around the waist (arannyaanum) are all Hindu customs while those related to child-birth purification and related observances are Jewish and comply to the Mosaic laws. Beliefs such as those in astrology and horoscopes are also rarely prevalent. Nevertheless the Hebraic or Jewish Heritage is also preserved to such an extent that the westerners, especially the Portuguese, termed the Nasranis as ‘Judaizers’ and also have been known to degrade their original Semitic customs and practices to a large extent. What remains today are probably just few remnants of the original Heritage. Names of Syrian Christians and related aspects Their names are Biblical names mostly of Hebraic origin like Yohannan...

Read More