The Malankara Rite is the form of the West Syriac liturgical rite practiced by several churches of the Saint Thomas Christian community in Kerala, India. West Syriac liturgy was brought to India by the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Jerusalem, Gregorios Abdal Jaleel, in 1665; in the following decades the Malankara Rite emerged as the liturgy of the Malankara Church, one of the two churches that evolved from the split in the Saint Thomas Christian community in the 17th century. Today it is practiced by the various churches that descend from the Malankara Church, namely the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Indian Orthodox Church), the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, the Malabar Independent Syrian Church, and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.
The West Syriac Rite developed out of the ancient Antiochene Rite, emerging in the 5th and 6th century with the adoption of Syriac, rather than Greek, as the liturgical language of the non-Chalcedonian Patriarchate of Antioch.The liturgy was further revised and expanded over the centuries as the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch emerged as a fully distinct church, reaching its "classical" form in the 12th century under Patriarch Michael the Syrian.
West Syriac liturgy was first introduced to India by the mission of Gregorios Abdal Jaleel, the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Jerusalem, who arrived in 1665.Historically, not wanting to accept the historical reality of Syrian migration, which happened in 345, under the leadership of Bishop Joseph and the trader Thomas of Canna, a group of Indian Christians in the Church of the East accepted Nestorianism, centred in Persia, practiced a variant of the East Syriac Rite that is known as the Malabar Rite. However, a decline in communications between the Patriarchate of Antioch (which is the oldest and which claims Patrenal succession) and India led the Saint Thomas Christians to attempt to establish relations with other churches. As early as 1491 the Archdeacon of Malabar sent envoys to the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch as part of an effort to receive a bishop for his bishopless province. In the end nothing came of the request, and the Patriarch of Antioch eventually sent a new bishop.
In 1653, a group of Saint Thomas Christians disaffected by Portuguese colonial rule and the drowning of delegate from the Patriarchate of Antioch (Ahatallah) joined Archdeacon Thomas and Anjilimoottil Ittythomman Kathanar (a priest from the Knanaya Christians), who gave courage to the Archdeacon, in vowing not to submit to Portuguese authority. This avowal, known as the Coonan Cross Oath, led to the formation of an independent Malankara Church with Thomas as its head. To affirm his consecration as bishop, Thomas sent requests to several churches including the Syriac Orthodox Church, the only church responded was the mother church. Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Simon I responded by sending Gregorios Abdal Jaleel to India in 1665, and the relationship between the Syriac Orthodox and Malankara Church got re-established ( in accordance to one faction of Indian Christians, who claims the establishment and succession of the throne of Saint. Thomas in India,from A.D 52 itself, this is seen as the birth of a new relation, they claim to be nourished by the Nestorian faith, but unfortunately now they follow the theology and Christology and Liturgy of Syrian Orthodox Church).
Adoption of West Syriac practice by the Malankara Church was gradual; in the early days of its independence the church was more interested in reversing the changes the Portuguese had imposed upon the Malabar Rite than in adopting a new liturgy.Indeed, among its first steps were to restore the usage of leavened bread and the Julian calendar. Under the influence of Gregorios, the church adopted West Syriac vestments, while twenty years later, West Syriac prelates introduced the West Syriac Liturgy of Saint James and the Antiochene rules concerning fasting, feast days, and prohibitions regarding the liturgy. Still, there was no systematized adoption of West Syriac practice for nearly one hundred years; in the meantime the church practiced a combination of West Syriac and Malabar Rite.
Formal steps towards adoption of the West Syriac Rite came in 1772, when bishops visiting from Antioch consecrated Mar Thoma VI as Mar Dionysius I and established a systematic church hierarchy.Amid visits by a church prelate in 1846 and the Patriarch himself in 1875, the church fully adopted West Syriac practice. Following the splits within the Malankara Church in the 19th century and its final breakup in the 20th century, the churches that developed from it have retained the Malankara Rite. Today the rite is essentially West Syriac in character with some local variations, which sometimes retain elements now archaic in the wider West Syriac tradition. For example, the Malankara Rite includes the observance of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on weekdays during Great Lent and on the Friday of Passion Week. Since the 20th century Syriac has largely been replaced as the liturgical language by Malayalam.
Before the arrival of West Syriac tradition, Malankara Nazranis were following East Syriac Tradition and we can see the influence of East Syriac tradition in liturgy and Malayalam language. Words like Mar, Qurbana are of East Syriac tradition and the corresponding West Syriac words are Mor, Qurbono, etc. We can still see the use of East Syriac words like Mar, Qurbana in Malankara churches. Churches that still have the east Syriac tradition are the Syro-Malabar Church and the Chaldean Syrian Church.
The East Syriac Prelate, Mar Yuhanon signed on behalf of the Churches of Persia and India at the first organized gathering of Christianity, the Synod of Nicea was held in 325 AD. The East Syriac Canonist Ibn Tayyib says ‘In the time of Catholicose Mar Ishaq (309-410) the Metropolitanates of Fars and Meru and in the time of Mar Ishu Yab-I/ II/ III (582-660) Halwan, Harat, Samarkhand, India and, China were created’. Mar Ishu Yab warned in his two letters to Mar Shimyun, Metropolitan of Fars (Riwardisher), located in southern Persia that his independent stand will not hamper the ecclesiastical needs of the people of India. Ancient East Syriac (Persian) crosses found out many places with writings in Pahlavi language engraved on it, as seen at Kadamattom Orthodox church, Kottayam Canaanite church, Mylapore church are also pronounce our close relationship with Eastern Church.
Malankara Nazranies also had evolved a script (Karshoni) to write Malayalam after making certain changes in East Syriac script, even though ‘Vattezhuthe’, an early form of Malayalam was in vogue. The present-day Malayalam script was formulated and used by Indo-Aryan settlers on the lines of Devnagari for the translation of their Epics to Malayalam after 12th century. Aarthat Padiyola in copper plate (preserved at University Manuscript Library, Trivandrum), declaring the sovereignty of Malankara Church in 1806 was written in old Malayalam script. An early script, ‘Kharoshti’ (used in Ashoka edicts) that prevailed in northwestern India was also developed from eastern Syriac, which helped to decipher identical edicts written in India's original but defunct Prakrit languages. Even many documents related to 17th and 18th centuries also reveals the attachment of Nazranis to Eastern Syria. A memorandum by Malankara Nazranis to Roman Pope against compulsive westernization during the 17th century states that, "All our prayers are written in the Chaldean Syriac of our Apostle father St. Thomas." A Jesuit priest Nunes Barutha of that period, states that: "Marthoma Christians don't not believe in any other teaching other than written in Eastern Syriac." In 1682, Bartholomew, a West Syrian Malpan from Aleppo was appointed in Verapoly seminary by Carmelites. But Malankara Nazranis strongly opposed the appointment to teach their students by a West Syrian teacher. Canon of Udayamperoor synod (page 79) specifically asked to discontinue the use of Eastern Syriac in liturgy and prayers for native Malayalam. Eastern Aramaic (Syriac) was widely used in Malankara up to the 17th century, and all borrowed words and names from Syriac to Malayalam are phonetically in Eastern Syriac. Later, Malankara Nazranis were almost adapted to Western Syriac and liturgy due to ecclesiastical support and long stay of many Antiochean prelates in the second half of 17th and 18th centuries.
At the outset of Latinisation, Nazranis were reluctant to accept Latin bishops. When Vasco-da-Gama arrived in Cochin in 1502, Metropolitan Mar Yahb Alla assisted by Mar Denha, Mar Yacob and Mar Yuhanon sent by Babylonian Patriarch (See of East Syriac Catholicosate shifted from Selucia to Baghdad began to known as Patriarch) ministered from Ankamaly along with Arkidhyaquana. Cardinal Tisserent in his book ‘Eastern Christianity’ states that even after the arrival of Portuguese, Babylonian Primates, continued to send prelates and they ministered in Malanakara viz. Mar Yacob (1503–49), Mar Joseph and Mar Elias (1556–69), Mar Abraham (1568–97) and thereafter Mar Simeon. Most of them were detained by Portuguese under Goan Inquisition and sent to Bassein (Vasai), Lisbon or Rome for orientation in Latin language, tradition and liturgy. In 1601, Menezes consecrated Fr. Francis Roz as bishop of Ankamaly, which marked the beginning of Roman Catholic hierarchy in Malankara. In 1652, Mar Ahathalla, a prelate from East Syria reached Mylapore (most emotive place in India for every East Syriac in early times) and the news of his detention and torture by Portuguese, caused the great uprising of 1653 known as ‘Coonan (bend) Cross Oath’ in which Malankara Nazranes proclaimed that they or their descendants will not make any relation with Rome and elevated Thomas Arkidhyaquana as Metran (bishop) by laying hands on him by 12 Priests.
Meantime, the Jesuit missionaries Latinised and formed Chaldean Catholic Church and restricted their old tradition to send bishops to Malankara. In light of such a circumstance, to get Apostolic Hand to the newly elevated bishop, the orthodox Churches like Antioch and Alexandria were contacted through the Dutch East India Co. due to their vast mercantile connections in cities and ports. Antiochean Church was the first to respond, sending their Jerusalem Bishop, Mor Gregorios, via a Dutch ship, reaching Malankara in 1665. The Dutch who defeated Portughese in 1663 for trade monopoly and the Malankara Church wanted to escape from the clutches of the Portuguese and caused to the arrival of many more contingent of Antiochean prelates, including Maphriyonos of Mosul, Eldho Mar Baselios (died on the 8th day of his arrival and considered as a saint, whose mortal remain is interned at Kothamangalam) and then Mar Sakralla with a team of Metropolitans and priests. When Malankara Syrians began to accept Antiochean prelates, Roman faction got an opportunity to call Malankara people as ‘Puthenkootukar’ (new tradition) and call themselves as ‘Pazhyakootukar’ (old traditionalists) to cover up their 54 years of new European relation. In fact, Latin rites introduced in Malankara by Menezes were much more strange and unfamiliar than West Syrian rites for Malabar Christians who were traditionally accustomed with Syrianism. Moreover, they found the west Syrian liturgy and rites to be much attractive due to their perceived "pure Syrian tradition."
Latin Catholicism failed to attract Malankara Nazranis, hence Portuguese had to resort to appeasement as well as to pressure tactics to bring Syrians into their fold. In the Coonan Cross Oath, almost the total strength of Syrians supported Arkidhyaquana, but within few decades, the majority of churches were annexed to Romanism. Kerala's long waterways helped the Portuguese soldiers to directly intervene in coastal churches, while geographically interior churches spared due to lack of roads at that time. They asked Kochi, Vadakkumkoor, Thekkumkoor and Ambalapuzha kings to put diktats to their Syrian subjects to join Catholicism.
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) also known as the Malankara Church and the Indian Orthodox Church, is an autocephalous church based in Kerala, India. Part of Oriental Orthodoxy, it is one of the oldest Christian communities in Asia. The church serves India's Saint Thomas Christian population. According to tradition, the church originated in the missions of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The autocephalous Catholicos of the East and the Malankara Metropolitan, enthroned on the Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas, is the primate of the church. It employs the Malankara Rite, an Indian form of the West Syriac liturgical rite. It is a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church regained full autocephaly in 1912, and remains in communion with the other five Oriental Orthodox churches, including the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, and the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church drafted and formally adopted a constitution in 1934, wherein the church formally declared the Malankara Metropolitan and the Catholicos of the East as one.
The Saint Thomas Christians, also called Syrian Christians of India, Nasrani or Malankara Nasrani or Nasrani Mappila, are an ethno-religious community of Indian Christians from the state of Kerala, who employ the East Syriac Rite and West Syriac Rite liturgical rites of Syriac Christianity. They trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. Nasrani is an Arabic term for "Christian" that emerges from the Greek word Nazōraioi translated in English to Nazarene. The Saint Thomas Christians are now divided into several different Eastern Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Protestant, and independent bodies, each with their own liturgies and traditions. They are Malayali people and speak the Malayalam language.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church or Church of Malabar Syrian Catholics, is an Eastern Catholic Major Archiepiscopal Church based in Kerala, India. It is an autonomous particular church in full communion with the Pope and the worldwide Catholic Church, with self-governance under the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO). The Church is headed by the Metropolitan and Gate of all India Major Archbishop George Cardinal Alencherry. The name Syro-Malabar is a prefix coined from the words Syriac as the church employs the East Syriac Rite liturgy, and Malabar which is the historical name for modern Kerala. The name has been in usage in official Vatican documents since the nineteenth century.
The Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, often shortened to Mar Thoma Church, and known also as the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar is an autonomous Oriental Indian church, based in Kerala, India, with Syriac high church traditions and eclectic characteristics from the Reformation era. It employs a reformed variant of the West Syriac Rite Divine Liturgy of Saint James.
Syriac Christianity is the form of Eastern Christianity whose formative theological writings and traditional liturgy are expressed in the Syriac language, which, along with Latin and Greek, was one of "the three most important Christian languages in the early centuries" of the Common Era.
The Holy Qurbana or Holy Qurbono, refers to the Eucharist as celebrated in Syriac Christianity. This includes various Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches. Syriac Christianity consists of two liturgical rites, the East Syriac Rite and the West Syriac Rite. The main Anaphora of the East Syriac tradition is the Holy Qurbana of Saints Addai and Mari, while that of the West Syriac tradition is the Divine Liturgy of Saint James.
The Synod of Diamper, held at Udayamperoor, known as Diamper in non-vernacular sources, was a diocesan synod, or council, that created rules and regulations for the ancient Saint Thomas Christians of the Malabar Coast, modern Kerala state, India, formally uniting them with the Catholic Church. This led to the creation of the Eastern Catholic Syro-Malabar Church, which follows East Syriac Rite liturgy.
The Coonan Cross Oath, taken on 3 January 1653, was a public avowal by members of the Saint Thomas Christians community of modern-day Kerala, India that they would not submit to the Jesuits and Latin Catholic Portuguese Padroado dominance in ecclesiastical and secular life.
The Chaldean Syrian Church of India is an Eastern Christian Church based in Thrissur, India. It is an archbishopric of the Assyrian Church of the East and is in full communion with Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Gewargis III. The Assyrian Church of the East descends from the historic Church of the East.
The Malabar Independent Syrian Church, also known as the Thozhiyur Church, is a Christian church centred in Kerala, India. It is one of the churches of the Saint Thomas Christian community, which traces its origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.
The West Syriac Rite, also called Syro-Antiochian Rite, is an Eastern Christian liturgical rite that employs the Divine Liturgy of Saint James in the West Syriac dialect. It is one of two main liturgical rites of Syriac Christianity. It is chiefly practiced in the Maronite Church, Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and churches related to or descended from it. It is part of the liturgical family known as the Antiochian Rite, which originated in the ancient Patriarchate of Antioch. It has more anaphoras than any other rite.
Holy See of the East is an honorary name of the sees of a number of Christian churches in the Middle East and India.
Mar Gregorios Abdal Jaleel Bawa was a Syriac Orthodox bishop of Jerusalem from 1664 until his death in 1681. He is chiefly remembered for his 1665 mission to India, in which he established ties between the Malankara Church and the Syriac Orthodox church of Antioch. He is venerated as a saint by his church.
The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Christian Church also known as the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, or the Syriac Orthodox Church of India, is an autonomous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Indian state of Kerala, and is an integral branch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. It recognizes the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Ignatius Aphrem II seated in the Cathedral of Saint George, Bab Tuma, Damascus, Syria, as its Supreme Head. It functions as a largely autonomous unit within the church, under the authority of the Catholicos of India, Baselios Thomas I. Currently, this is the only church in Malankara which has a direct relationship with the Syriac Christians of Antioch, which has continued from after the schism and they continue to employ the West Syriac Rite Liturgy of Saint James. The faction of the Malankara Church that gained autocephaly in 1912, became the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC), also known as the Indian Orthodox Church, and are an autocephalous (independent) church in the Oriental Orthodoxy communion.
The Malankara Church refers to the collection of Indian apostolic churches, according to tradition, that originated in the missions of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The word "Malankara" is a combination of two words, 'Mala' which means mountains and 'Kara' which means land surface; and refers to the state of Kerala in India. The modern-day descendant of the Malankara Church is the Oriental Orthodox autocephalous (independent) Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, also known as the Indian Orthodox Church. The Jacobite Church represents the church that is an integral part of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. The Mar Thoma Church is an independent church that formed in the 19th century. The Malankara Syrian Catholic Church is the faction that joined with the Holy See of Rome in 1930.
Catholicos of the East is an ecclesiastical title used by Eastern Churches. The term "Catholicos" is derived from the Greek word Katholikos (Καθολικός), meaning "Universal Bishop".
Palliveettil Mar Chandy became the first Indian-born native Saint Thomas Christian Bishop of the East Syriac Rite (Chaldaean) hierarchy after the Coonan Cross Oath in 1653. This faction became in full communion with the Holy See of Rome, it would later become the modern-day Eastern Catholic Syro-Malabar Catholic Church which is also colloquially known as the Roman Catholic Syrian Church (RCSC). Chandy's tomb is at the Marth Mariam Major Archiepiscopal Church at Kuravilangad.
West Syriac liturgical rites, also known as West Syrian, Jacobite, or Antiochene liturgical rites, are the liturgical rites practiced by churches following the West Syriac tradition of Syriac Christianity. These rites developed out of the ancient Antiochene Rite of the Patriarchate of Antioch, adapting the old Greek liturgy into Syriac, the language of the Syrian countryside.
The Saint Thomas Christian denominations are traditional Christian denominations from Kerala, India, who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. They are also known as "Nasranis" as well. The Syriac term "Nasrani" is still used by St. Thomas Christians in Kerala.
Several historical evidences shed light on a significant Malankara–Persia relationship that spanned centuries. While a fraternal relationship existed between Malankara (Malabar) and Persia in the earlier centuries, closer ecclesiastical ties developed as early as 15th century and endured until the Portuguese colonial invasion of Malabar in 16th century. The Christians who came under the two ancient yet distinct lineages of Malankara (India) and Persia had one factor in common: their Saint Thomas heritage. The Church of the East shared communion with the Great Church until the Council of Ephesus in the 5th century, separating over differences in Christology and rising conflict between Roman Empire and Sassanid Empire.