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WHO ARE NAZARANI AND SYRIAN CHRISTIANS? AND WHO RULED KERALA WHEN ST. THOMAS CAME?
D.N.Jha | 03 Apr 2008



The Syrian Christians originated from Kerala and they are now scattered all over the world .The word " Syrian Christian" is derived from "Suraya Christians" who had migrated to Kerala (Malankara) in 340 AD under the leadership of a Bishop by name David (Dawood). This is recorded on the cross they had brought with them, which is preserved in Alangad church in Kerala. They migrated from a place called Suraya (Syria) now in Iraq to escape political persecution. Before the Suraya Christians came to Malankara (Kerala) there were already Christians in Kerala converted by St. Thomas. They were known as Nazarani Christians or Issanu Vadikal . They were mostly Christians converted from Jews, Nambudiris and Royal family (The Chera King Kuru Varman-1 also known as Vyakrasenan who ruled Kerala from 40 AD to 55 AD was a Christian 1 ). All the Christians up to the time of the Portuguese rule in Kerala are called Syrian Christians. They remained unmixed with other religious class of people and kept their identity by adopting the religious practices of the Essenian Jews converted to Christianity .The Head of the Syrian Christian community was Archdeacon(Arch deacon) who enjoyed powers to rule the entire Syrian Christian population.

He assisted the king even in military matters by training his own people. Like Nairs, their group leaders were also called Panikkars (one who trains in the use of arms after physical training). Their life style, customs, church administration, marriage ceremonies, etc were identical with the practices in Nambudiri families. Unlike other Christians the Syrian Christians kept Biblical names as their official name and a Hindu name (local) as pet name suffixed with Achen for gents and Achi or Amma for ladies in most cases.

Mention was made in the previous paragraph about the Essenian Jews migrated to Kerala at the time of St. Thomas. In the year 53 AD, the church in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman kings. The persecution of Jews by Nero and Titus was around this period. During this period around 10000Jews (estimated) migrated to Kodungallore near Cochin where there were already Jews settled for trade even from the time of King Solomon (1000 BC). The Judakunnu (Jewish Hill) in Palayur bears testimony of the Jews who lived there from 600 BC.

When St Thomas arrived in Muchiri (other names: Musiris, Cranganur, Kodungalure etc) in Mali Island on the Alwaye coast in 52 AD the Chera kingdom existing at that time was ruled by Udayan Cheran Athen-I (page 44 of Cochin State Manual).From the 1st century AD or before the most known kingdoms in South India were Chera, Chola, and Pandian. The capital of Chera was Vanji or Tiruvanchikulam and the most important port was Muchiri (Musiris). The capital of Chola Kingdom was Urayur and the most important port was Kaveri, where as the Pandian kingdom had Madurai as its capital and the most important port was Korkai. The area from Gokarnam (now in Carnataka towards Goa) to CapeComerin was ruled by the Chera kings and Kerala derived the name from Cheram ,

the traditional Dravida kings who ruled this area from 5th century BC to 11th century AD. Tamil and its adapted version was the language used till Malayalam evolved around 13th century AD.

There was also another ancient kingdom known as Ayr ruled by Vel (kings) in the High Ranges south of Pampa River (Baris) where Nilackal, one of the churches founded by St.Thomas, existed. They ruled this area more than 1000years from first centuryAD. When St. Thomas landed in Nilackal they were possibly the rulers. 3 Ptolemy in his writings in the second century recorded this place as Aioi. Venadu is derived from Vel Nadu. It seems that the name Ayroor and AyurVeda had its root from this kingdom. The history of this kingdom requires research

Ancient Settlements of Syrian Christians

The Christians (Jews) came with St. Thomas settled mostly in Cattukulangara (Kunnamkulam). The Arthattu Church in the name of St Mary in Kunnamkulam is believed to be one of the oldest churches from the time of St Thomas.The Christians at the time of St Thomas were called Nazaranikal.They were also referred to as "Issanis" in the epic poem of Manimekalai in Tamil by Mani around 3rd century AD

Syrian Christian Families in Central Kerala

An examination of the family histories of some of the oldest families in central Travencore ie Kollam, Kottayam, Niranam etc could very well establish their link to various places like Kuravilangadu, Palayur, Kodungallur, Nilackal etc. The family histories of Vadakkadathu in Thumpamon,Thazhamon and Thengumthottathil in

Ayroor, Manjooran in Ernakulam ,trace their origin in Kuravilangadu.The tradition of Kizhakkethalackal, Vadakkethalackal, Padinjarethalackal in Puthenkavu and Mavelikara claim 50 to 56 generations of continuous priesthood. The Plathanam and Kanikunnam in Ranny , Polachirackal in Mavelikara, Illampally and Polackal in Edathua,Thalakod in Chenganoor,(refer: Alackal.com) trace their common origin to Chiraikal Royal family in Kodungallur. The tradition of Kelaparampil family in Niranam traces their origin from Nilackal; they had escaped through River Pampa to Niranam when Nilackal was plundered by Vikkram Puli Thevar and Paraya Pattam during AD1253 to 1299 after the Chera, Chola, war of 100 years came to an end in AD1085. The Vel (kings) of Ayr who ruled Nilackal area was completely displaced or destroyed with nobody to defend the place from enemy attack after the Chera –Chola war.

Migration of Syrian Christians

When the Chera kingdom was attacked by other kingdoms including the Arabs around 300AD the people in Kodungallure mostly Christians, and Jews migrated to other areas. Traditional families like Pakalomattom , Sankarapuri, (Chiraikal), etc settled down in Kuravilangad, Kurichi, Changanacherry Niranam etc. The Rulers honoured those who migrated to Changanacherry by giving them the title of "Tharakan". The same family people again moved further to Champakulam, Pullad, Chengannoor, Mavelikara ,Niranam, Ranny etc at different periods.During those times water transport was the only means of travel, hence the people had settled down mostly on the coastal areas of Arabian Sea, Kayal or rivers like Periyar, Pampa ete.

Family Traditions

A traditional story of the conversion of the Shankarapuri family by St. Thomas in the year AD 53 is mentioned in the family histories of the Plathanam, Kanikunnam, Polachirackal, Ooramvelil and Polackal families which have a common root. This was about the miraculous saving of the life of a child. During those times (1st century A.D.), ‘Narabali’, or human sacrifice was popular in the Kali temple at Kodungaloor. Towards the end of every year, a child from one of the important families was selected for this sacrifice. It was chosen by a system of Narukku or lucky dip. The child selected for this sacrifice was to be below 5 years of age.

In the year A.D. 53, when St. Thomas visited this area, the King’s (nephew), Kunjan was selected as the lot fell in his name. The King was away to the Pandian kingdom on a pilgrimage

 

WHO ARE NAZARANI AND SYRIAN CHRISTIANS? AND WHO RULED KERALA WHEN ST. THOMAS CAME?

The Syrian Christians originated from Kerala and they are now scattered all over the world .The word " Syrian Christian" is derived from "Suraya Christians" who had migrated to Kerala (Malankara) in 340 AD under the leadership of a Bishop by name David (Dawood). This is recorded on the cross they had brought with them, which is preserved in Alangad church in Kerala. They migrated from a place called Suraya (Syria) now in Iraq to escape political persecution. Before the Suraya Christians came to Malankara (Kerala) there were already Christians in Kerala converted by St. Thomas. They were known as Nazarani Christians or Issanu Vadikal . They were mostly Christians converted from Jews, Nambudiris and Royal family (The Chera King Kuru Varman-1 also known as Vyakrasenan who ruled Kerala from 40 AD to 55 AD was a Christian 1 ). All the Christians up to the time of the Portuguese rule in Kerala are called Syrian Christians. They remained unmixed with other religious class of people and kept their identity by adopting the religious practices of the Essenian Jews converted to Christianity .The Head of the Syrian Christian community was Archdeacon(Arch deacon) who enjoyed powers to rule the entire Syrian Christian population.

He assisted the king even in military matters by training his own people. Like Nairs, their group leaders were also called Panikkars (one who trains in the use of arms after physical training). Their life style, customs, church administration, marriage ceremonies, etc were identical with the practices in Nambudiri families. Unlike other Christians the Syrian Christians kept Biblical names as their official name and a Hindu name (local) as pet name suffixed with Achen for gents and Achi or Amma for ladies in most cases.

Mention was made in the previous paragraph about the Essenian Jews migrated to Kerala at the time of St. Thomas. In the year 53 AD, the church in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman kings. The persecution of Jews by Nero and Titus was around this period. During this period around 10000Jews (estimated) migrated to Kodungallore near Cochin where there were already Jews settled for trade even from the time of King Solomon (1000 BC). The Judakunnu (Jewish Hill) in Palayur bears testimony of the Jews who lived there from 600 BC.

When St Thomas arrived in Muchiri (other names: Musiris, Cranganur, Kodungalure etc) in Mali Island on the Alwaye coast in 52 AD the Chera kingdom existing at that time was ruled by Udayan Cheran Athen-I (page 44 of Cochin State Manual).From the 1st century AD or before the most known kingdoms in South India were Chera, Chola, and Pandian. The capital of Chera was Vanji or Tiruvanchikulam and the most important port was Muchiri (Musiris). The capital of Chola Kingdom was Urayur and the most important port was Kaveri, where as the Pandian kingdom had Madurai as its capital and the most important port was Korkai. The area from Gokarnam (now in Carnataka towards Goa) to CapeComerin was ruled by the Chera kings and Kerala derived the name from Cheram ,

the traditional Dravida kings who ruled this area from 5th century BC to 11th century AD. Tamil and its adapted version was the language used till Malayalam evolved around 13th century AD.

There was also another ancient kingdom known as Ayr ruled by Vel (kings) in the High Ranges south of Pampa River (Baris) where Nilackal, one of the churches founded by St.Thomas, existed. They ruled this area more than 1000years from first centuryAD. When St. Thomas landed in Nilackal they were possibly the rulers. 3 Ptolemy in his writings in the second century recorded this place as Aioi. Venadu is derived from Vel Nadu. It seems that the name Ayroor and AyurVeda had its root from this kingdom. The history of this kingdom requires research

Ancient Settlements of Syrian Christians

The Christians (Jews) came with St. Thomas settled mostly in Cattukulangara (Kunnamkulam). The Arthattu Church in the name of St Mary in Kunnamkulam is believed to be one of the oldest churches from the time of St Thomas.The Christians at the time of St Thomas were called Nazaranikal.They were also referred to as "Issanis" in the epic poem of Manimekalai in Tamil by Mani around 3rd century AD

Syrian Christian Families in Central Kerala

An examination of the family histories of some of the oldest families in central Travencore ie Kollam, Kottayam, Niranam etc could very well establish their link to various places like Kuravilangadu, Palayur, Kodungallur, Nilackal etc. The family histories of Vadakkadathu in Thumpamon,Thazhamon and Thengumthottathil in

Ayroor, Manjooran in Ernakulam ,trace their origin in Kuravilangadu.The tradition of Kizhakkethalackal, Vadakkethalackal, Padinjarethalackal in Puthenkavu and Mavelikara claim 50 to 56 generations of continuous priesthood. The Plathanam and Kanikunnam in Ranny , Polachirackal in Mavelikara, Illampally and Polackal in Edathua,Thalakod in Chenganoor,(refer: Alackal.com) trace their common origin to Chiraikal Royal family in Kodungallur. The tradition of Kelaparampil family in Niranam traces their origin from Nilackal; they had escaped through River Pampa to Niranam when Nilackal was plundered by Vikkram Puli Thevar and Paraya Pattam during AD1253 to 1299 after the Chera, Chola, war of 100 years came to an end in AD1085. The Vel (kings) of Ayr who ruled Nilackal area was completely displaced or destroyed with nobody to defend the place from enemy attack after the Chera –Chola war.

Migration of Syrian Christians

When the Chera kingdom was attacked by other kingdoms including the Arabs around 300AD the people in Kodungallure mostly Christians, and Jews migrated to other areas. Traditional families like Pakalomattom , Sankarapuri, (Chiraikal), etc settled down in Kuravilangad, Kurichi, Changanacherry Niranam etc. The Rulers honoured those who migrated to Changanacherry by giving them the title of "Tharakan". The same family people again moved further to Champakulam, Pullad, Chengannoor, Mavelikara ,Niranam, Ranny etc at different periods.During those times water transport was the only means of travel, hence the people had settled down mostly on the coastal areas of Arabian Sea, Kayal or rivers like Periyar, Pampa ete.

Family Traditions

A traditional story of the conversion of the Shankarapuri family by St. Thomas in the year AD 53 is mentioned in the family histories of the Plathanam, Kanikunnam, Polachirackal, Ooramvelil and Polackal families which have a common root. This was about the miraculous saving of the life of a child. During those times (1st century A.D.), ‘Narabali’, or human sacrifice was popular in the Kali temple at Kodungaloor. Towards the end of every year, a child from one of the important families was selected for this sacrifice. It was chosen by a system of Narukku or lucky dip. The child selected for this sacrifice was to be below 5 years of age.

In the year A.D. 53, when St. Thomas visited this area, the King’s (nephew), Kunjan was selected as the lot fell in his name. The King was away to the Pandian kingdom on a pilgrimage

during that time. The child’s grandmother and other members of their family were greatly disturbed and shocked at the outcome of the Narukkeduppu (lot). St. Thomas and his Jewish friends went to witness this Narabali. They were given seats of honour as they were foreigners. The grandmother of the child knowing the divine power of St. Thomas approached and requested him to save the life of the child. St. Thomas assured them that the child’s life would be saved if they believed and trusted in the power of the Living God. The other members present there challenged St. Thomas, but the boy’s grandmother declared that she and her family members would believe in his God if the child was saved. St. Thomas ordered the child to be brought in his presence; he then baptized the child and sent him to the Poojari to carry on the rest of the rituals. The sacrifice was supposed to be conducted in the inner chamber of the temple where the Goddess Kali was seated. The door was closed after the Poojari entered with the child to be sacrificed. After the sacrifice was completed the Poojari as usual would open the door. In this case the door was not opened for a long time. The people, who were present to witness the occasion, grew impatient. After a long time they forcibly opened the door and saw the child smiling and the Poojari missing from the scene. Around 200 people assembled there believed in the power of the living God and they got baptized there and then. The custom of Narabali was discontinued thereafter. Thus Kodungaloor became a Christian city.It is since then known as the city of Mahathevar (Mahodayapuram). In the meantime the king on his journey heard about the Narabali and got very angry. On his return to the palace and hearing what had taken place in detail he too got baptized by St. Thomas and became a

believer in Christ. He was named Andrew. The king is believed to be Athen Cheran 1. The child who was baptized by St. Thomas later became a priest and he was named ‘Kepa’. It is believed that he also attended the Kabaradakam of St. Thomas when he was martyred in Calamina under the rule of King Mazda, (now in Persian Gulf).

Migration of Christians from the Middle East

During the period from 53 AD to 349 AD, the Nazarani Christians passed through difficult times, they lost many lives and properties due to war between different kingdoms and also due to natural calamities. They had settled along the coastal areas of North Kerala . It was in the year AD 340 that the Suraya Christians (now Syrian Christians) came to Malabar Coast under the leadership of a bishop by name Dawood. With his arrival the churches in Malankara were redeemed from destruction. Suraya is the place from where the Babylonian Christians came to Malankara. This place is now in Iraq.The Babylonian Christians had settled down in the coastal areas of North Kerala. Some of them had also settled down in Ceylon (Thambrobani). There is also a place called Kalyani on the coastal area between Mangalapuram and Vadakara about which Cosmos during his voyage between AD520 to525 had recorded on his study about the existence of Christians all over the world.

It is the Babylonian Christians (Suraya) who introduced chicken sacrifice in Kerala on the festival day of Geevarughese Sahada in keeping with the tradition of the Jews in Jerusalem Church. This was also a national festival for the Jews known as

"Tamas". All the Syrian Christians of Kerala by tradition know the chicken sacrifice in Puthupally every year.

Incidentally, it may be mentioned that there were Christians in the Island of Socotra (near Persian Gulf) where ST Thomas is remembered as in Malankara.All the historians who wrote about Socorta had recorded this fact from 300 AD and had stated that all inhabitants of that Island are Christians. The church there was administered by Bishops sent from Baghdad i.e.Babylon.

Jacobite Christians

Jacob (Yakoob ), brother of Christ was the Bishop of Jerusalem. It is his book (Thaksa) which was adopted by the Syrian Christians for HolyQurbana. This book was brought by the Babylonian Christians when they migrated to Malankara in Cheranadu in AD 340.This could be the reason why Malankara Christians since then are known as Jacobites or Syrian Christians since they adopted the system of worship of Suraya Christians which is still in vogue with the Jacobite churches.

The Suraya Christians also had brought with them Persian Crosses with Pahlavi inscriptions on them .One of the crosses is at Alangadu in the custody of the Jacobites. This is the only cross where the word "Suraya" is recorded in Pahlavi language. This inscription is similar to the one that existed during the reign of Narassahi Shah of Persia from AD293 to 302. It is believed that the following churches were constructed after the Babylonian Christians migrated to Kerala: 1) Palayur 2) Ankamali 3) Edapally 4) Karingachira 5) Kandanadu 6) Thalayolaparambu. These churches were named after Christian saints like Geevarughese Sahada, Kurikose Sahada,etc. The

churches, which existed prior to their migration, were mostly in the name of St. Mary, St.Thomas or other Disciples of Christ. The Suraya Christians also had settled down in Ceylon (Thambrobani ,Ezhanadu), and coastal area of Konkanum nadu (Ezhamalai) which was part of the Chera kingdom at that time. The next migration from the Middle East was that of Mar Sabor Easo and Porth in AD 822 . This will be dealt with in the next chapter

Forcible Conversion of Syrian Christians by Tippu Sultan.

Tippu Sultan took an oath to convert the Malankara Syrian Christians to Islam. In AD1784 he attacked Cochin and surrounding areas, destroyed ancient churches and temples, and took 4 lakhs Christians and one lakh Hindus who were either forcibly converted to Islam or killed. Those converted to Islam retained their names and culture .The title "Mappila"used by the Muslims in Malabar belongs to the Christians. Names among them, Ummer (Oommen) ,Choyi (Kochoyi), etc are of Syrian Christian origin. During the attack by Tippu the Kozhikode Zmuthiri (Zamorin), Manorama Thampuratti accompanied by many Syrian Christians came for shelter under Travencore State ruled by Karthikathirunal. Such Christians were settled in places like Ennakadu, Cheppadu, Kannankode, Mavelikara, etc where there were already Christians. During the time of Ramayan Delava a census of such Christians were taken. Inorder to identify them their houses were named after the tree closest to their houses. Thus names like Plamood, Mammootil, Pulimootil, Alumootil etc were given which exist till today. The earlier Christians in those places had "Thalackal", "Oor", "kode"etc added to their house name; examples are

Poovathoor, Thalakode, Kizhakethalackal etc. They were Christians settled down there from St.Thomas time.

The Iron Rule of Portuguese over Syrian Christians.

The Portuguese took over the rule of the administration of all Syrian Christian Churches by force in the middle of 15th century and ruled over them about 100 years thus breaking the tradition of getting Bishops from Babylon, /Antioch/ Alexandria/Persia for the Syrian Church.The Portuguese rule of the Syrian Churches was a period of turmoil for the Syrian Christians which ended up with the Oath of Coonan Cross in AD 1653(Coonan Kurish Satyam). It was at

this historical moment the Syrian Christians got separated in to two divisions called Puthenkoor and Pazhyakoor. Incidentally it may be mentioned that those liberated from the Portuguese were called Puthenkoor though they retained the traditions prior to the Rule of the Portuguese in Kerala. The Pazhayakoor having remained under the Portuguese for over 100 years continued to remain under the Portuguese by accepting the changes brought by them in the Syrian Church . The Puthenkoor and Pazhayakoor are known today as the Syrian Jacobite and Syrian Roman Catholics respectively. Infact the foreign rule of the Portuguese was responsible for the division among Syrian Christians and a break in their traditional worship. The imposition of Latin tradition in the Syrian Church over the years particularly in North Kerala went with out any resistance. The architecture in the olden churches renovated by them in North Kerala is standing examples of their attempt to bring the Syrian Christians under their culture. With the exception of Kollam the Eastern tradition is preserved in almost all old churches south of Kottayam possibly because they
 
were inaccessible to them for want of adequate transport system in the High Ranges of Kerala.

during that time. The child’s grandmother and other members of their family were greatly disturbed and shocked at the outcome of the Narukkeduppu (lot). St. Thomas and his Jewish friends went to witness this Narabali. They were given seats of honour as they were foreigners. The grandmother of the child knowing the divine power of St. Thomas approached and requested him to save the life of the child. St. Thomas assured them that the child’s life would be saved if they believed and trusted in the power of the Living God. The other members present there challenged St. Thomas, but the boy’s grandmother declared that she and her family members would believe in his God if the child was saved. St. Thomas ordered the child to be brought in his presence; he then baptized the child and sent him to the Poojari to carry on the rest of the rituals. The sacrifice was supposed to be conducted in the inner chamber of the temple where the Goddess Kali was seated. The door was closed after the Poojari entered with the child to be sacrificed. After the sacrifice was completed the Poojari as usual would open the door. In this case the door was not opened for a long time. The people, who were present to witness the occasion, grew impatient. After a long time they forcibly opened the door and saw the child smiling and the Poojari missing from the scene. Around 200 people assembled there believed in the power of the living God and they got baptized there and then. The custom of Narabali was discontinued thereafter. Thus Kodungaloor became a Christian city.It is since then known as the city of Mahathevar (Mahodayapuram). In the meantime the king on his journey heard about the Narabali and got very angry. On his return to the palace and hearing what had taken place in detail he too got baptized by St. Thomas and became a

believer in Christ. He was named Andrew. The king is believed to be Athen Cheran 1. The child who was baptized by St. Thomas later became a priest and he was named ‘Kepa’. It is believed that he also attended the Kabaradakam of St. Thomas when he was martyred in Calamina under the rule of King Mazda, (now in Persian Gulf).

Migration of Christians from the Middle East

During the period from 53 AD to 349 AD, the Nazarani Christians passed through difficult times, they lost many lives and properties due to war between different kingdoms and also due to natural calamities. They had settled along the coastal areas of North Kerala . It was in the year AD 340 that the Suraya Christians (now Syrian Christians) came to Malabar Coast under the leadership of a bishop by name Dawood. With his arrival the churches in Malankara were redeemed from destruction. Suraya is the place from where the Babylonian Christians came to Malankara. This place is now in Iraq.The Babylonian Christians had settled down in the coastal areas of North Kerala. Some of them had also settled down in Ceylon (Thambrobani). There is also a place called Kalyani on the coastal area between Mangalapuram and Vadakara about which Cosmos during his voyage between AD520 to525 had recorded on his study about the existence of Christians all over the world.

It is the Babylonian Christians (Suraya) who introduced chicken sacrifice in Kerala on the festival day of Geevarughese Sahada in keeping with the tradition of the Jews in Jerusalem Church. This was also a national festival for the Jews known as

"Tamas". All the Syrian Christians of Kerala by tradition know the chicken sacrifice in Puthupally every year.

Incidentally, it may be mentioned that there were Christians in the Island of Socotra (near Persian Gulf) where ST Thomas is remembered as in Malankara.All the historians who wrote about Socorta had recorded this fact from 300 AD and had stated that all inhabitants of that Island are Christians. The church there was administered by Bishops sent from Baghdad i.e.Babylon.

Jacobite Christians

Jacob (Yakoob ), brother of Christ was the Bishop of Jerusalem. It is his book (Thaksa) which was adopted by the Syrian Christians for HolyQurbana. This book was brought by the Babylonian Christians when they migrated to Malankara in Cheranadu in AD 340.This could be the reason why Malankara Christians since then are known as Jacobites or Syrian Christians since they adopted the system of worship of Suraya Christians which is still in vogue with the Jacobite churches.

The Suraya Christians also had brought with them Persian Crosses with Pahlavi inscriptions on them .One of the crosses is at Alangadu in the custody of the Jacobites. This is the only cross where the word "Suraya" is recorded in Pahlavi language. This inscription is similar to the one that existed during the reign of Narassahi Shah of Persia from AD293 to 302. It is believed that the following churches were constructed after the Babylonian Christians migrated to Kerala: 1) Palayur 2) Ankamali 3) Edapally 4) Karingachira 5) Kandanadu 6) Thalayolaparambu. These churches were named after Christian saints like Geevarughese Sahada, Kurikose Sahada,etc. The


churches, which existed prior to their migration, were mostly in the name of St. Mary, St.Thomas or other Disciples of Christ. The Suraya Christians also had settled down in Ceylon (Thambrobani ,Ezhanadu), and coastal area of Konkanum nadu (Ezhamalai) which was part of the Chera kingdom at that time. The next migration from the Middle East was that of Mar Sabor Easo and Porth in AD 822 . This will be dealt with in the next chapter

Forcible Conversion of Syrian Christians by Tippu Sultan.

Tippu Sultan took an oath to convert the Malankara Syrian Christians to Islam. In AD1784 he attacked Cochin and surrounding areas, destroyed ancient churches and temples, and took 4 lakhs Christians and one lakh Hindus who were either forcibly converted to Islam or killed. Those converted to Islam retained their names and culture .The title "Mappila"used by the Muslims in Malabar belongs to the Christians. Names among them, Ummer (Oommen) ,Choyi (Kochoyi), etc are of Syrian Christian origin. During the attack by Tippu the Kozhikode Zmuthiri (Zamorin), Manorama Thampuratti accompanied by many Syrian Christians came for shelter under Travencore State ruled by Karthikathirunal. Such Christians were settled in places like Ennakadu, Cheppadu, Kannankode, Mavelikara, etc where there were already Christians. During the time of Ramayan Delava a census of such Christians were taken. Inorder to identify them their houses were named after the tree closest to their houses. Thus names like Plamood, Mammootil, Pulimootil, Alumootil etc were given which exist till today. The earlier Christians in those places had "Thalackal", "Oor", "kode"etc added to their house name; examples are

Poovathoor, Thalakode, Kizhakethalackal etc. They were Christians settled down there from St.Thomas time.

The Iron Rule of Portuguese over Syrian Christians.

The Portuguese took over the rule of the administration of all Syrian Christian Churches by force in the middle of 15th century and ruled over them about 100 years thus breaking the tradition of getting Bishops from Babylon, /Antioch/ Alexandria/Persia for the Syrian Church.The Portuguese rule of the Syrian Churches was a period of turmoil for the Syrian Christians which ended up with the Oath of Coonan Cross in AD 1653(Coonan Kurish Satyam). It was at

this historical moment the Syrian Christians got separated in to two divisions called Puthenkoor and Pazhyakoor. Incidentally it may be mentioned that those liberated from the Portuguese were called Puthenkoor though they retained the traditions prior to the Rule of the Portuguese in Kerala. The Pazhayakoor having remained under the Portuguese for over 100 years continued to remain under the Portuguese by accepting the changes brought by them in the Syrian Church . The Puthenkoor and Pazhayakoor are known today as the Syrian Jacobite and Syrian Roman Catholics respectively. Infact the foreign rule of the Portuguese was responsible for the division among Syrian Christians and a break in their traditional worship. The imposition of Latin tradition in the Syrian Church over the years particularly in North Kerala went with out any resistance. The architecture in the olden churches renovated by them in North Kerala is standing examples of their attempt to bring the Syrian Christians under their culture. With the exception of Kollam the Eastern tradition is preserved in almost all old churches south of Kottayam possibly because they were inaccessible to them for want of adequate transport system in the High Ranges of Kerala.