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Christianity

Christianity was established in Kerala earlier than almost anywhere in the world. 

The advent of Christianity in India goes back to St. Thomas the Apostle, one of the original disciples of Jesus Christ. In 52 A.D. "doubting Thomas" is believed to have arrived in Goa first. After establishing a small Christian congregation he went south and came down to Kerala to preach the gospel.


He found his work difficult as most people were subjects of a tight feudal regime. So he actually preached the Christian gospel first amongst the Jews and then converted 12 Brahmin Families from whom the Syrian Christians trace their genealogy.

 

It is believed that St. Thomas lived for some time at Malayattur (in the southern part of the center of today's Kerala) and his footprint is believed to be found embedded in a rock. St.Thomas is believed to have gone east. His life may have ended at a small town near Madras (Chennai) in what today is Kerala's neighbor State, Tamil Nadu.

Christian Denominations in Kerala

Catholics
· Syro-Malabar -                                                      3,000,000

· Syro-Malankara -                                                      500,000

· Latin -                                                                  1,700,000

 Other Christians

· Syrian Orthodox (Methran Kakshi) -                          1,100,000

· Jacobite Syrian Orthodox (Bava Kakshi) -                   1,000,000

· Independent Jacobites (Thozhiyur) -                               9,000

· Marthomites -                                                          500,000

· St.Thomas Evangelical & Others -                                  10,000

· Church of the East (Nestorians/Surais) -                       100,000

· Church of South India (CSI) and other Protestants -       700,000

Total Christians in Kerala -                                               8,619,000

 

 

.....Kanjirapally is a small town in the Kottayam District, famous for the Christian families that live there. There are the Valiyaveetil, Pallivathukal, Pottamkullam, Karimbinal, Kolamkulam, Anathanam and others. Most of the people in this area are orthodox Syrian Christians. An individual is always associated with his/her family name. The majority of these families inherited their land and most of it was rubber estate. They hit the jackpot when rubber prices shot up a few years ago. But prices went down drastically and lots of people lost their money.

Mr. Kurien Thomas is a part of the Potamkullam family. Together with his family he lives in the family's traditional residence. Theirs is a typical Syrian Christian family. Like many of their neighbors they look after their estates and participate actively in parish activities. With regular prayers and rosary in their houses, and Sunday classes for the children. Mr. Kurien is also the secretary for the local club. Every family knows every other in this small town. Marriages usually are arranged and take place between local families as it always has been. 

 

 

 

The Traditional life of a Christian : 

In Kerala Christians are baptized when they are born (usually within the first two months). Sunday classes start during the first standard that is, at the age of 6. First Holy Communion is given at the age of  9, 10 or 11, followed by a 'confirmation'. Marriages usually are arranged. There are three main functions related to marriage. The first one is ‘orapir' (Malayalam word for 'a decision taken with confidence‘) in which all the details of the wedding are fixed. It usually takes place in the groom's house and only the bride's family is present). The second function is the 'engagement' (‘manasammatham' - 'agreeing with full heart'). This takes place in the bride’s house. It starts with exchanging rings in the church, followed by a get-together. Later the groom’s family has to organize the wedding ceremony. It takes place in the family's residence, a wedding hall or a hotel.  Brides are usually adorned with a lot of gold. The dowry system is still persistent, despite the sincere efforts of the church and the government to end this ill-fated practice. 

Christmas and Easter are big celebrations in Kerala. Like in other parts of the world they are family affairs. Both functions start with a midnight mass. Good food with the entire family is another feature. The feasts of saints are celebrated, with a festival conducted in churches for which the saint is a patron. The parish is usually divided into groups, prayers, get-together and competitions on special occasions are done between and among the groups. Mother Mary’s feast is celebrated on august 15th in every church, St Joseph’s feast is celebrated by giving lunch for everybody as an offering. It is usually vegetarian food because St. Josephs feast falls during 'lent'. There are two main lents for the Christians that is, the 50 days lent before Easter and the 25 days lent before Christmas. During lent season non-vegetarian food is avoided as a sacrifice, and individuals give up their favorite food item during this time. On Good Friday people eat only once. On other Fridays they do not consume any meat items. The majority of Christians are God fearing folks aiming to follow the religious rules. Confessions are also practiced, especially before Christmas and Easter.

 

 

 

 

The Rise of Christianity

Syrian Christians

The Cross on the Mount (Kurisumala)

Hermann Gudert and basel mission

 

 

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