A few days after that, we made a trip to the Chendamangalam Synagogue. Most people are not aware, but India had a sizeable Jewish population, and had been there since ancient times. There is a legend that when St. Thomas came to Kerala, he was invited to a wedding. There, he sang a wedding song in a language that none of the attendees could understand, except for a Jewish flute-girl. Another story says that a lot of the Jews came to India after the destruction of the second temple. The Jews in Kerala clustered around Cochin (Kochi) and hence are known as the Cochin Jews. The synagogue in my hometown is situated in a rather unique spot. In fact, it is the only spot in the world where you will find places of worship of the four major religions, in a one kilometer radius. There is a Krishna temple on a hill, an old Christian Church down the hill, a Mosque by a ferry station, and of course, there's the synagogue. It is a true testament to religious harmony - the four major religions of the world living in perfect harmony with each other. There are not many places in the world where you can see that.
In my opinion, the synagogue dates from the 1200's, perhaps earlier, due to the finding of a gravestone of a Jewish woman by the synagogue who was buried there during that time. The gravestone was actually found by one of my uncles (from my mother's side of the family). He had an avid interest in the synagogue and did a lot of exploring around it. However, the synagogue is currently dated as being newer than the big one in Cochin. This is apparently due to some "political" issues. But anyway... when I got to India, I heard from my cousins that the synagogue had been completely restored. I was pretty excited because I've gone to see that synagogue every year since my dad first took me there in 1990. Once the Jews left Chendamangalam for Israel, there was no one left to look after the synagogue. So it was locked up and left to the mercy of the elements and vandals. Over the years vegetation took over, and parts of the ceiling fell in. It was in a pretty sorry state. Sometime in 2005, a plan was made to restore the synagogue. It took about a year, but the end result was completely worth it. The architecture of the synagogue is interesting because it has elements of traditional Kerala architecture. The interior has displays with information about the history of the Cochin Jews and exhibits that contain pictures of Chendamanglam Jewish families and also little things like Hebrew-Malayalam translation books, religious items, and other things that gave me a glimpse into the life of a Jew in Chendamangalam. A lot of these items were donated by Chendamangalam Jews from Israel. Like I stated before, I absolutely love being in places of antiquity. So it was a wonderful experience seeing the synagogue restored to its former glory. Standing in the synagogue, I could almost catch a glimpse of the past. People filing into pray... children in the room upstairs taking Hebrew lessons... all quite fascinating.
Before I knew it, my leave was almost at an end. My original ticket was a round-trip back to Frankfurst. But that would make me lose another day of my leave and I didn't want that. My dad figured that I could fly to Kuwait through Muscat and spend a day with them there. It has been over seven years since my whole family has been together in Muscat, so I was welcome to the idea. I mean, as long as I made it back to Kuwait at the appointed time, I was good. So we left India early in the morning on the 25th. It was a hard saying the good-byes. Especially to my Grandfather. He had had a wonderful time with all his children and grand-children around, and so it was hard for him to see all of us go. But I'm hoping I get to make a trip to India sometime late this year, or early next year. We reached Muscat at about 9 or 10 in the morning. After we put away all our luggage at home, we all went and had lunch. Then we went back home and chilled over there for a bit. I know my parents have gotten used to it, but it hasn't been easy for them. When my sister and I left to go to the US after I finished my senior year of highschool, and she, her junior year, it was very hard for them. They were used to having us around, or hearing us fighting (especially in the car). In fact, my mom remarked about that as we were all driving around - how we used to fight so much in the back. Even though I only had a little more than a day, it was an amazing one. It was great being together in Muscat with my mom, dad and sister again. That evening, we went to dinner at my favourite restaurant Golden Oryx, with some family friends. After that, we got back home and I was painfully aware that I would have to leave tomorrow. I really didn't want to, but I had no choice.
19 thoughts on “The Worst Journey Ever. The Best Vacation Ever.”
Awesome post Viv. Awesome..
That was a nice vacation which you enjoyed. Your blog is quite interesting and informative. I appreciate your flair for writing as well.
Hey bro! lol jp my brother’s name is vivin too. that’s tight. he doesnt really like his name, tho.
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Was reading on the ancestry of the Nairs, when I got to see your website. How did you get all this material? Its wonderful. I am a Nair myself, have to check my Tharavad from my parents. Was born in North India so have very little idea of Nairs and their history. Parents are settled in Perumbavoor, so still do get to see Kerala once a year. Am based in Singapore now. Would be nice to keep in touch.
One thing i forgot to ask you. you made that article on nairs??? If so 2 points to note:
1.Nairs were never classified into kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras.
2.Villakithala, velluthedathu and Chakkala nairs are not true nairs. No nair would knowingly prefer a marriage alliance with these castes.
Rest is in my posting in Discussion
No comments from yu about my posting in ‘Nairs’ in Discussion. Do you know anand Paliyath presently working as a scientist in NPOL
Sorry for the delay. Being in Iraq, my internet access is rather limited.
While it is true that I was the one who initially wrote the article, it has changed over time due to the fact that Wikipedia is a collaborative effort. A lot of people have made changes. Furthermore, I haven’t been monitoring the article lately, so I cannot tell you much about the new changes.
As far as your first point goes, I agree with you completely. The Kerala caste system was completely different from the rest of India. While the Nairs were the ruling class, the highly orthodox Namboothiris still considered them to be untouchable due to the fact that they considered anyone lower (according to them) than their caste, untouchable. In fact, even other Brahmins (Iyers, for example) were considered untouchable by the Namboothiris. In that sense, you are correct – the Nairs were never classified into Kshathriya, Vaishya, or Sudra. However, I was merely trying to show a comparative analysis.
As far as your second point, I am no authority on it, and therefore, cannot comment.
If it is the Anand Paliath I think you are talking about, then I haven’t met him in person, but we did talk online once. What is NPOL, by the way?
NPOL is National Physical Oceanographic Laboratory.
2.About my second point in my last mail, it is well known. You can ask anybody, anand for instance (No that he need be an expert. i just want to indicate that the idea is common place). You’ve been out of the country for long, I suppose. Then why are these castes (like Veluthedathu, Vellakithala, Chakkala Nairs etc.) not members of Nair Service Society (NSS), the premier organisation of the community?? On the other hand, they have their own associations like Villakkithala nair Samajam etc.NSS is in forefront in the criticism of the present reservation system of the government which it feels affects badly the members of the Nair community; these communities, meanwhile all belong to the Other Backward Category (OBC)enjoying the benefits of reservation system.
3.Parasurama may be a myth. But the very edifice of the caste structure and scriptures in every religion rests on mythological premises.So should you axe the Axe-Rama (Axe is Parasu in Sanskrit)? RAKS
Like I said, I do not know enough about that point to comment. I did not add that information. You may remove it if you wish, as long as you provide proper documentation and references to support the change.
I believe that the caste system originated as a system for the division of labour. The myths were most probably added later to give it religious legitimacy. No doubt, certain parties had vested interests. However, using a myth to explain the origin of the Nairs doesn’t really get us anywhere. You can add the information if you wish, but probably want to phrase in a way such that it is evident to the reader that the legend/myth of Nairs removing their poonollu to escape Parashurama is just that – a myth. It may or may not have happened. The real reason may be something else, and the myth may have been created over time to explain it. We do not know, and therefore you cannot state it as a “Theory of Origin”.
Please continue further discussion on my Talk Page at Wikipedia.
hai vivin we both have the same name . iam glad to; meet you please be in contact with me lets we rock and roll
check you e-mail!! I finally got some picture of you from our last trip to the pool. You almost killed me remember???? The worst driver ever!! Don;t take it hard, I still love you man.
I should be dropping by in BIAP shortly so I’ll definitely come visit you.
PS: did you get your movies back?
Happened to go through this post…..Have to say it was an absolute delight to read….Nice pics too….Looking forward to reading more in the future…..Keep up the good work….Cheers !!
WHATEVER DUDE! Ok, in all fairness, that was my first time driving from BIAP to the IZ and back! Hahaha! Hey, I got that picture of you in the gunner’s turret too. Yeah Ortiz has my movies – I just haven’t gotten them from him yet. Stay safe in Ramadi!
Glad you enjoyed the post – I try to update as often as I can. I’m working on one to put here within the next few days!
Hi again.I had posted a comment a few months back.I’m at university now-university of British Columbia in vancouver.Thankfully the experience is’nt too scary.I mean,the day before i got here,i was totally freaking out.The place is huge,but i’m settling down.I find your journal quite interesting.I was in India too in august before we moved to canada.
I’m doing Anthropology and lots of other courses here.According to my textbook,nairs are classified under Kshathriyas.I am a Nair and have often heard others classify it under shudhra. So,which is it?!! i have’nt located your article yet.
Anyway,your pictures and descriptions of kerala did make me feel a little home-sick.Kerala has to be one place that sucks you in with all it’s vigour and energy,and yet when you’re out,you’re so much more of yourself.Maybe it has to do with truly indentifying yourself and fitting in completely with the people. You should visit the Guruvayoor temple.Even with all the madness in the crowd,(some women can really push and squeeze through crowds!)it’s truly liberating to be so close to god.
juat saw you and raks talking about me.. i am anand. i work in npol. naval physical and oceanographic lab. juat wanted to say hai… happy holi and easter