Syrian Christian in India


Population
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.

Introduction / History

The Syrian Christians of Indian also known as Saint Thomas Syrian Christians or Nasarni are an ancient endogamous ethno-religious group found in the south western coast of India, known as Malabar in the state of Kerala. The Saint Thomas Syrian Christians belong to Syrian Christianity with churches following the East Syriac (Persian Syriac) and the West Syriac (Antiochian Syriac) liturgical rites. According to tradition Thomas the Apostle has arrived at the Malabar coast of Kerala in 52 AD, converted many upper caste Nambudiri Brahmin families and Malabar Jewish familes to Christianity and established the Ezharappallikkal (seven and a half churches), which include Palayoor, Kodungallur, North Paravur, Malayattur, Gokkamangalam, Niranam , Nilakkal and Kollam churches. The most notable among the Nambudiri Brahmin familes which were converted to Christianity by Thomas the Apostle were Pakalomattom, Sankarapuri, Kalli, Kaliyankal and Pattumukkil families. Priests were ordianed from these families. Later in 345 AD, an Assyrian Jewish merchant known as Thomas of Cana along with 400 Judeo Assyrian Christians part of the Chaldean Syrian Church of the East migrated from Mesopotamia and Iraq to Kodungallur in the Malabar coast. These Syrian Christians came to be known as Knanaya and forms an endogamous part of the Saint Thomas Syrian Christians of Kerala. These Knanaya Syrian Christians were responsible for bringing all the existing native Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala into thr Chaldean Syrian Church of the East in the 4rth century. In 825 AD two Chaldean Syrian bishops Mar Sabor and Mar Aphroth came to the ancient port of Kollam (Quilon) in Kerala along with many Assyrian Christians. The Syrian Christians of Kerala were given many privileges by the rulers of Kerala which were inscribed in ancient records like the Quilon Syrian Copper plates, Thazhekkad Shashanam order, Iravikorthan Copper plates etc. Until 1599 all Syrian Christians of Kerala were under the Chaldean Syrian Church of the East, but the Portuguese rule brought huge splits amongst the Syrian Christians of Kerala. The Portuguese had forcefully converted all Saint Thomas Syrian Christians to Latin Catholicism but they rejected the faith and half of the Syrian Christians joined the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch which uses the West Syriac liturgy and came to be known as Puthenkoor (literally meaning new faction as joined the Syriac Orthodox Church) and the other half joined the Catholic church as an Eastern Catholic community which uses East Syriac liturgy and came to be known as Pazhayakoor (meaning old faction as they retained their East Syriac liturgy) which form the present Syro Malabar Catholic Church and the Chaldean Syrian Church. Later in the the 18th century there occurred another split amongst the Puthenkoor Syrian Christians under the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, which was due to the reformation of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The reformed faction formed the Malnakara Marthoma Syrian Church. Later there was another split where the Puthenkoor faction split into Malnakara Orthodox Syrian Church (under a native Catholicose) and the Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church (under the Patriarch of Antioch). In the 19th century some Puthenkoor Syrian Christians joined the Catholic church as an Eastern Catholic community and came to be known as Syro Malnakara Catholic Church.


Where Are they Located?

The Saint Thomas Syrian Christians are originally from the Malabar coast of Kerala where they are concentrated in the Thrissur, Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta and Kollam districts. They form 70.73% of the Christians of Kerala and 12.5% of the population of Kerala.


What Are Their Lives Like?

The Syrian Christians of Kerala are a very conservative community from Kerala which is highly endogamous. They are majorly an aristocratic and trading ethnic group who are considered to be an upper caste in India in accordance with their Brahmin, Jewish and Assyrian ancestory. Until the early 20th century the Syrian Christians of Kerala practiced untouchability with the lower and middle castes of Kerala. The Saint Thomas Syrian Christians are considered a caste and they do not allow other Christians to be join them. They have the highest human developmental index among all communities of Kerala, the human developmental index is determined by land ownership, economic status and financial stability. The Syrian Christians are primarily non vegetarian and have a unique cuisine of their own. The Syrian Christians of Kerala are culturally Hindu and follow many Hindu traditions in their daily life. Their culture, cuisne, attire, artforms and traditions are derived from the native indegenous culture of Kerala.


What Are Their Beliefs?

The Saint Thomas Syrian Christian Churches are the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, Syro Malankara Catholic Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church, Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church, Malabar Independent Syrian Church and the Chaldean Syrian Church. The Syro Malabar Church and the Syro Malankara Church are Eastern Oriental Catholic Churches, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church and the Malabar Independent Syrian Church are Oriental Orthodox Churches. The Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church is an reformed Oriental Orthodox Church and the Chaldean Syrian Church is a Nestorian Church.


Prayer Points

Pray that the Syrian Christians will have the gospel message given to them so that instead of being nominal Christians they become born again.
Pray for gospel materials to be given to them.


Scripture Prayers for the Syrian Christian in India.


References

Singh, K. S., ed. "India's Communities A-Z", Oxford University Press, USA 1999


Profile Source:   Anonymous  

People Name General Syrian Christian
People Name in Country Syrian Christian
Population this Country 4,405,000
Population all Countries 4,406,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 3
Unreached No
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 6  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed
Alternate Names Azhayakar; Jacobite; Knanaya; Knanaya Christian; Knanaya Samudhayan; Mar Thoma; Marthoma Christiani; Nazarani Mapilla; Pazhayakur; Puthenkur; Thekkumbhaga Samudhayam; Thekkumbhagar Samudhayan; Vadakkumbhagar; Vadakkumbhaggar; सिरियन क्रिस्चियन
People ID 18199
ROP3 Code 113714
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 36
Largest States
(only 15 largest shown)
Kerala
3,567,000
Tamil Nadu
368,000
Karnataka
239,000
Maharashtra
137,000
Delhi
15,000
Gujarat
8,800
Telangana
6,800
West Bengal
5,100
Madhya Pradesh
3,000
Andhra Pradesh
2,600
Chhattisgarh
2,200
Rajasthan
1,900
Andaman and Nicobar
1,800
Uttar Pradesh
1,700
Punjab
1,700
Districts Interactive map, listing and data download
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 36  (only 20 largest shown)
  Kerala 3,567,000
  Tamil Nadu 368,000
  Karnataka 239,000
  Maharashtra 137,000
  Delhi 15,000
  Gujarat 8,800
  Telangana 6,800
  West Bengal 5,100
  Madhya Pradesh 3,000
  Andhra Pradesh 2,600
  Chhattisgarh 2,200
  Rajasthan 1,900
  Andaman and Nicobar 1,800
  Uttar Pradesh 1,700
  Punjab 1,700
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Malayalam (3,630,000 speakers)
Language Code mal   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 7
Secondary Languages
Tulu
28,000
Tamil
22,000
Konkani
19,000
English
17,000
Konkani, Goan
7,000
Kannada
1,000
Primary Language Malayalam (3,630,000 speakers)
Language Code mal   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 7
Secondary Languages
  Tulu 28,000
  Tamil 22,000
  Konkani 19,000
  English 17,000
  Konkani, Goan 7,000
  Kannada 1,000
People Groups Speaking Malayalam

Primary Language:  Malayalam

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1811-1968)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1829-1995)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1841-2022)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
Amazon
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Love letter to you from scripture Father's Love Letter
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Following Jesus video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
Film / Video Indigitube.tv Video / Animation Create International
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Malayalam Jesus Film Project
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
Film / Video Magdalena video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children Jesus Film Project
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Biblical answers to your questions Got Questions Ministry
General Four Spiritual Laws Campus Crusade for Christ
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Primary Religion: Christianity
Major Religion Percent *
Buddhism
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
100.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
0.00 %
Islam
0.00 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
Unknown
0.00 %
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Photo Source Anonymous 
Map Source People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Anonymous  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more