These privileges and reciprocal religious ties were the litmus test of the standing of the SyrianAssyrian peopleAssyrian people, alternatively, are a Semitic ethnic group indigenous to Assyria, a region in the Middle East. Some of them self-identify as Syriac-Arameans, or as Chaldeans. Speakers of modern Aramaic as well as the primary languages in their countries of residence, modern Assyrians are Sy…en.wikipedia.orgChristians within the Hindu social hierarchy. While they survived, the Syrian Christians were recognized as the equivalent of ahigh Hindu caste groupfrom the Nair subdivisions and linked to these groups in social and religious life.
Who are the Syrian Christians?
The term Syrian Christians is sometimes used to refer to the total Christian population of Kerala, which lies on the southwestern coast of the Indian peninsula. The presence of Christianity in most parts of India largely reflects the work of missionaries during the Western colonial period, particularly after the early 1800s.
Are there any problems among the Syrian Christians of Kerala?
Conflicts between churches have sometimes ended up in the courts. Nonetheless, the Syrian Christian community has existed in Kerala for nearly 2,000 years, and no doubt will continue to do so for centuries to come. Caste remains a problem among the Syrian Christians of Kerala.
Do Syrian Christians in the United States have caste privileges?
Many Syrian Christians in the United States remain unaware of their caste privileges, formal and informal caste networks, or casteism in Christianity. Sonja Thomas is an associate professor and program director of the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Department at Colby College.
What happened to the Syrian Christians?
Syrian Christians remained an independent group and continued to get bishops from the Eastern Orthodox church in Antioch in Syria. After the Portuguese arrival in 1498, they gradually established their power and were eager to bring all Christians under the Church of Rome.
How do Syrian Christians dress?
Men wear the dhoti, the long, white cotton cloth that is wrapped around the waist, then pulled between the legs and fastened at the back. Alternatively, they may wear a mundu, which falls to the ankles rather than being passed through the legs. In the past, the chest was left bare, but now shirts are common. A folded cloth known as a kavani is draped around the neck.
How many wives did Knai Thoma have?
One holds that Knai Thoma (Thomas of Cana) had two wives, one a Persian and one a Hindu from Kerala. On his death, he left his possessions north of Craganur to the children of his Hindu wife and his possessions in the south to the offspring of his Persian wife, hence the existence of the two sects of Syrian Christians.
Where did the Syrian Christian community come from?
Whatever its origins, the Syrian Christian community was well established in Kerala by the 6th century ad. It is thus the oldest among the various Indian Christian groups found in the sub-continent. It also differs from the other Christian communities in the social categories from which its converts were drawn. The Portuguese, for instance, encouraged intermarriage with the local population. The early Christian communities of Goa and other Portuguese colonies were thus of mixed descent and derived primarily from Portuguese males marrying Indian women. Converts to Christianity during the 19th century, on the other hand, came largely from the lower and Untouchable castes or tribal peoples. The former were seeking to escape the Hindu caste system, while the latter were marginal to mainstream Hindu society. Many Syrian Christians, however, came from the landowning upper castes, and the community came to rank as equal to the Nairs, who claim warrior (ksatriya) status. Their social position was further enhanced through service to local rulers. Though Christian in religion and beliefs, Syrian Christians have managed to preserve many aspects of their Indian culture.
What was the impact of the Portuguese presence in India?
The arrival of the Portuguese in India in 1498 introduced the old conflicts of Christendom to the Indian subcontinent. As the Portuguese presence in India grew, so did the power of the Church of Rome. Condemning both the Syrian rites and many practices of the Syrian Christians, the Portuguese set out to "Latinize" the Church in Kerala. By the early 17th century, the Roman Catholic Church was dominant in the region. In 1653, however, some Syrian Christians reasserted their traditional beliefs, swearing before an open-air cross (an event known as the "Coonen Cross Oath") that they would never accept the supremacy of the pope and Western Christianity. One consequence of this and later splits within the community is that the Syrian Christians of Kerala are now divided between the Syrian Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Churches.
Where are Syrian Christians from?
The term "Syrian Christians" is sometimes used to refer to the total Christian population of Kerala, which lies on the southwestern coast of the Indian peninsula. The presence of Christianity in most parts of India largely reflects the work of missionaries during the Western colonial period, particularly after the early 1800s. In a more restricted sense, however, Syrian Christians trace their origins to the 1st century ad, when St. Thomas the Apostle is believed to have landed in Kerala. As a result of this, they are also known as Christians of St. Thomas. The community derives its designation as Syrian Christians from its early association with the East Syrian Church of Christianity, and its traditional use of the Syriac language in church services. Syrian Christians are also called Malabar Christians, Malabar being the name for the coastal region of this part of India.
How many Christians are there in Kerala?
LOCATION AND HOMELAND. Christians in Kerala are currently estimated to number over 6 million people. Around half this number are Christians who belong to non-Syrian Christian churches, for instance, the Protestant Church of South India (CSI).
What is Kerala’s model?
Kerala has given its name to the Kerala model or the Kerala phenomenon, which refers to a set of economic practices that have resulted in the state attaining a high level of standards in human development (no doubt influenced by the strong Christian presence), while compromising on its industrial development. Thus, Kerala has high literacy, a low birth rate, and demographic indices, such as life expectancy and infant mortality, that would place it among the developed nations, but it ranks behind many states in India in terms of industrial and economic development and in per capita income. Kerala also has the distinction of being one of the few states in the world that has regularly voted communist governments into and out of power. The state government in 2008, led by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, was formed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Why did Syrian Christians come to rank after the Brahmans?
Syrian Christians came to rank after the Brahmans and as equals of the Nayars. The survival of Syrian Christians in Kerala was also a result of the benevolence and tolerance of the rulers in Travancore, Cochin, and Malabar who donated land and helped financially to build churches.
Where do Syrian Christians live?
Syrian Christians live in Kerala State in the southwest corner of India and speak Malayalam, one of the four major Dravidian languages of south India. They can be considered a caste and are endogamous. Location.
How is Kerala divided?
Kerala is divided into districts administered by a collector who, though appointed by the state government, is a federal civil -service official. At the district level there are taluks, which are smaller administrative units under a tahsildar. Towns with both elected and appointed officials fall within the taluks.
What percentage of people in Kerala speak Tamil?
Ninety-six percent of Kerala people speak Malayalam and about 2.37 percent speak Tamil. The latter reside mainly in the border areas adjacent to the state of Tamil Nadu. Those who are on the border of Karnataka State speak Tulu and Kannada.
Why did the early church receive this aid?
The early church received this aid partly Because of the favorable impression created by the Christians, who served the rulers in various capacities, as well as respect for the religion. Syrian Christians remained an independent group and continued to get bishops from the Eastern Orthodox church in Antioch in Syria.
When did the Roman Catholic Church in Kerala lose its hold?
However, when the Portuguese power declined by the early seventeenth century, the hold of the Roman Catholic church in Kerala weakened, and allegiance to the Syrian Orthodox tradition was reaffirmed in front of an improvised cross at Mattancherry in 1653, an event known as Coonan Kurisu Satyam.
What was the last language in the Dravidian group to develop a distinct form and literature?
Malayalam was the last language in the Dravidian Group to develop a distinct form and Literature. Until the ninth century AD., Kerala was a part of Tamilakam and the language of the Kerala region was Tamil. Gradually Malayalam came under the influence of Sanskrit and Prakrit with the spread of Aryan influence.
What is the West Syriac Rite?
The West Syriac Rite (also called Antiochian Syriac Rite or St. James Rite), which has the Divine Liturgy of Saint James as its anaphora, is that of the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Lebanon-based Maronite Church and Syriac Catholic Church, and the Indian Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Jacobite Syrian Christian Church (part of the Syriac Orthodox Church), Malabar Independent Syrian Church. Modified (Protestant-influenced) version of this rite are used by the Reformed Eastern Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church and the more strongly Reformed St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India.
What is the Syriac religion?
Syriac Christianity comprises two liturgical traditions. The East Syriac Rite (also known variably as the Chaldean, Assyrian, Sassanid, Babylonian or Persian Rite), whose main anaphora is the Holy Qurbana of Saints Addai and Mari, is that of the Iraq-based Chaldean Catholic Church, Assyrian Church of the East and Ancient Church of the East, and the Indian Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and Chaldean Syrian Church (the latter being part of the Assyrian Church of the East).
What is Syriac Christianity?
Syriac Christianity ( M?i?āyu?ā Suryāy?ā; ?????? ??????? ?, masī?iyyat suryāniyya) represents a distinctive branch of Eastern Christianity, whose formative theological writings and traditional liturgies are expressed in Classical Syriac language, a variation of Aramaic language. In a wider sense, the term can also refer to Aramaic Christianity in general, thus encompassing all Christian traditions that are based on liturgical uses of Aramaic language and its variations, both historical and modern.
Where did Syriac language originate?
The Syriac language is a variety of Aramaic language, that emerged in Edessa, Upper Mesopotamia during the first centuries CE. It is related to the Aramaic of Jesus, a Galilean dialect. This relationship added to its prestige for Christians. The form of the language in use in Edessa predominated in Christian writings and was accepted as the standard form, “a convenient vehicle for the spread of Christianity wherever there was a substrate of spoken Aramaic”. The area where Syriac or Aramaic was spoken, an area of contact and conflict between the Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire, extended from around Antioch in the west to Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the Sasanian capital (in Iraq), in the east and comprised the whole or parts of present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, and parts of Turkey and Iran.
What was the 5th ecumenical council?
In 553, the Council of Constantinople, the fifth ecumenical council, anathematized Theodore of Mopsuestia, and also condemned several writings of Theodoret of Cyrus and Ibas of Edessa (see: Three-Chapter Controversy). Since those three theologians were highly regarded among Eastern Syriac Christians, further rifts were created, culminating in 612, when a major council of the Church of the East was held in Seleucia-Ctesiphon. Presided by Babai the Great (d. 628), the council officially adopted specific Christological formulations, using Syriac term qnoma as designation for dual (divine and human) properties within one prosopon (person) of Christ.
What languages did Christianity use?
Along with Greek and Latin, Classical Syriac was one of the three most important languages of Early Christianity . It became a vessel for the development of a distinctive Syriac form of Christianity, that flourished throughout the Near East and other parts of Asia during the Late Antiquity and the Early Medieval period, giving rise to various liturgical and denominational traditions, represented in modern times by several Churches that are continuing to uphold religious and cultural heritage of Syriac Christianity.
How many bishops were there in Nicea?
The bishops who took part in the First Council of Nicea (325) , the first of the ecumenical councils, included twenty from Syria and one from Persia, outside the Roman Empire. Two councils held in the following century divided Syriac Christianity into two opposing parties.
Where did Palathingal come from?
Beyond the general term Christian, there lies a more nuanced identifier for the community that people like Palathingal hail from – Syrian Christians. A traditionally privileged and landed community, they claim their origin from the proselytisation mission of Jesus Christ’s disciple St. Thomas in the first century CE.
Did Syrian Christians belong to the Savarna caste?
Cambridge historian Susan Bayly, in her book, Saints, Goddesses and Kings, points out that in the pre-colonial era, Syrian Christians were very much incorporated into the savarna sections of the caste hierarchy within the Kerala society.
Did Syrian Christians live in Kerala?
Although the tectonic changes brought into the social organisation of Kerala by the colonialists altered this position, and Syrian Christians switch ed from being mostly a martial and trading group to one of land-owning agriculturalists , they were still able to retain their traditional privileges.
Where is Bipin Sebastian?
Bipin Sebastian is a PhD student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. He studies discursive formations on religion, caste and secularism in India and can be reached at [email protected] For those interested in exploring the question of Christianity and caste in Kerala more, this author recommends the works of scholars like Sonja Thomas, Sanal Mohan and Carmel Christy, among others.
Who is responsible for the Indian flag?
recently, caught the attention of many. It was even more of a surprise when it was revealed that a Malayali Christian named Vinson Palathingal was responsible for it.
Who ransacked Hagia Sophia?
The recent decision by Turkish President Erdogan to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque is portrayed as another instance of a global Muslim scheme against Christians, conveniently hiding the fact that 13th-century crusaders were the first to ransack Hagia Sophia.
Is there antagonism towards Muslims?
Antagonism towards Muslims is not new and has been a popular, but private, sentiment among the members of the community majorly in the erstwhile central Travancore region. As such, one needs to ask why, suddenly, this made its entry into the public sphere with such fervour. For one, it is clear that ‘love jihad’, the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, halal food controversy, terrorism etc, have been used instrumentally to plug the local antagonism towards Muslims into the global discourse, adding much-needed legitimacy to the anti-Muslim social imagination. This also helps in rhetorically translating the antagonism in such popularly recognised ‘common sense’ terms that would look normal and legitimate.
How did the Syrian Christians retain caste privileges?
The retention of caste privileges by the Syrian Christians was ensured in several ways. A series of customs and rituals heavily influenced by high-caste Hindu practices, relating to food, occupation, and rites relating to the preparation of good and whom one ate with became a part of a complicated system of ritual pollution that the Syrian Christians inherited from high caste Hindus. The Syrian Christians also implicitly accepted distance pollution, a peculiar fact of the traditional Kerala caste Structure. A custom that survived until recently among some Syrian Christians of Kottayam is that during the Easter service street procession, shouts of ‘poyin, poyin’ (go away! go away) were heard, warning members of the lower castes to remove themselves from their path. Also, in earlier times, the Syrian Christian katanar (priest) was sometimes called upon to perform an unusual task by the Nairs and Brahmins to ‘purify’ by touching objects ‘polluted’ by contact with lower castes.
Why did Christians use Hindu torches?
The Christians continued to use Hindu style torches, umbrellas, and banners at their festivals to honor saints and bishops of the Syrian church. There was at least one Hindu temple that lent its temple elephants for Syrian Christian festival processions.
How did the high status of the Syrian Christians in Hindu society reflect?
The high status of the Syrian Christians in Hindu society was reflected everywhere by their right of access to Hindu society was reflected everywhere by their right of access to Hindu shrines and ‘sacred space’.
What is the name of the Syrian Christian community?
From time immemorial, a member of Syrian Christian was popularly known in Kerala as a Nasrani (meaning from Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus Christ). The term ‘Syrian Christian’ is of Dutch origin and now a commonly used name for the community. And, despite some misgivings, we will continue to refer to the group by that name.
What were the Dutch called when they first appeared in Kerala?
When the Dutch first appeared in Kerala, the old Christians that they came across were labeled ‘Syrian’ Christians and the more recent Portuguese converts as ‘Latin’ Christians, a distinction that remains even today.
Why is St Thomas important to Christians?
Irrespective of whether it happened or not (and on the existing evidence it could well have happened), the St Thomas connection is important to all Syrian Christians, whatever their differences, for their very identity has been shaped by this tradition. Associated with this tradition is yet another legend.
What is the name of the church in Antioch?
The name eventually came to refer to those connected with the Church of Antioch at the very beginning of Christianity. It was referred to as the ‘Syrian Church’ in the epistle of St. Ignatius (the third Patriarch of Antioch), to the Romans in AD 107.
What is the Dalit church?
A prominent Dalit church is the Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha, commonly known as PRDS, founded in 1909 by the Dalit activist and poet Poikayil Yohannan. “PRDS was an early movement against caste oppression,” said Mohan. “The World Evangelical Mission, CMS Anglican Church, Salvation Army are some of the exclusive Dalit churches formed later.”
What did Mohan say about caste in India?
Mohan said neither the Church nor its members have addressed the problem of caste among Christians in India. He pointed to a casteist taunt made by independent MLA PC George in March against a Dalit Catholic priest who took a stand against George Alenchery, cardinal of the Syro-Malabar Church, in a row over the controversial sale of church land in Kochi. George, who represents the Christian-dominated Assembly constituency of Poonjar in Idukki district, had called the priest an illegitimate son of a Pulaya (a Dalit community) woman who could not be called a Catholic. “It [the comments] showed the mentality of upper-caste Christians in Kerala,” said Mohan. “What shocked more was that the taunt did not elicit angry reactions from Dalit priests.”
Why did the senior priest stop attending traditional family gatherings?
The senior priest said he would stop attending traditional family gatherings held by members of the church to celebrate their upper caste identity and lineage. A senior priest from Kerala’s Jacobite Syrian Christian Church recently put the spotlight on the fact that some Christians in the state practice the caste system, …
When did the Brahmins migrate to Kerala?
This is a point that Boby Thomas also makes. “Brahmins began to migrate to Kerala between the sixth and eighth centuries and they became a dominant force only between the 10th and 12th centuries,” he said.
Is caste discrimination prevalent in the parishes?
The report said that the practice of caste is prevalent in the formation of parishes (an administrative district headed by a parish priest) and seen in the construction of separate chapels in the same village for Dalits and other caste Christians. Discrimination is also evident in the denial of opportunities for Dalit Christians in the parish administration, as well as in jobs and the priesthood.
Is Christianity free from caste?
Scholars say that the tendency of some Christians to hark back to their Brahminical lineage indicates that Christianity is not free from the blight of caste. As evidence, they point to the plight of those Dalits who converted to Christianity from Hinduism to escape caste oppression, only to find that things were much the same on the other side.
Do Syrian Christians have upper caste status?
But she also pointed out that St Thomas Christians – another name for Syrian Christians – have used their upper caste status through history to remain close to power. “Legends have their own emphases on probability rather than certainty,” she said. “These [Syrian] Christians are patrilocal and patrilineal like the Brahmins they claim descent from.”