About Syrian Christian :
Syrian Christians are also known as Nasrani people or Syrian-Malabar Christians or even Saint Thomas Christians. The Nasrani people are an ethnic community from Kerala, South India, who follow the early Hebrew-Syriac Christian tradition. Their heritage is Syro-Malabar, their culture South Indian and their faith St. Thomas Christian. Much of their Jewish tradition has been forgotten, especially after the Portuguese invasion of Kerala in the early 1500s.
The term Syrian-Malabar Nasranis is a composite form of the elemental aspects of the ancient tradition. In it the term, 'Syrian' actually refers to the Aramaic speaking Jewish people rather than Syria, while the term Malabar is the ancient name of the present day state of Kerala in India. The term Syrian-Malabar Nasrani therefore means people of Christian-Jewish tradition who follow Jesus of Nazareth and are migrated from Syria to the Malabar Coast of South India.
Sacred Symbol :
The symbol of the Nasranis is the Syrian cross, also called as Nasrani Menorah or Mar Thoma kurish in Malayalam. It is based on the Jewish menorah, the ancient symbol of the Hebrews, which consists of a branched candle stand for seven candlesticks. In the Nasrani Menorah the six branches, (three on either side of the cross) represents God as the burning bush, while the central branch holds the cross, the dove at the tip of the cross represents the Holy Spirit. It may be noted that the Christian cross was not adopted as a symbol by Mediterranean and European Christianity until several centuries have passed.
According to Indian census report of 2004, there are approximately 5,000,000 Syrian-Malabar Nasranis from across the various denominations within the Nasrani community.
Regional Spread :
Nasrani people largely live in the districts of Kottayam in Kerala and neighboring districts. Many in the community have also migrated to other cities in India like Mumbai and Bangalore. Others have migrated to the United States and many others work in the Middle East.
Nasrani people own large estates and are engaged in trade of rubber, spices and cash crops. Several Syrian Christians also take prominent role in the educational institutions of Kerala and throughout India.
Marriage Preference :
Prefer marriage within their community
- Abu Abraham - Cartoonist
- AK Antony - former Chief Minister of Kerala
- Anju Bobby George - Athlete
- Arundhati Roy - (Her mother is a Syrian Christian) - author
- Beena Mol - Athlete
- Joseph Mundassery - prominent Malayalam critic
- Johnson - Malayalam cinema composer
- John Mathai - Politician
- KJ Yesudas - Singer and exponent of Carnatic music
- KK Mathew - Former Indian Supreme Court Justice
- KM Mathew - Chief Editor, Malayala Manorama
- Mathai Manjooran - Indian freedom fighter and Socialist revolutionary
- Oommen Chandy - Chief Minister of Kerala
- Paul Zacharia - Malayalam writer
- P.C. Alexander - Former Governor and senior bureaucrat, Member of Parliament
- VC Samuel - Renowned Christologist, world authority on church history
- Verghese Kurien - author of the White Revolution based in Anand, Gujarat