The Syrian Christian families of Kerala consist of Malankara Syrian Catholic, Cananaya, Orthodox Jacobite and the Marthomites. Although they are very traditional many of them are slowly breaking out of their religious mould and becoming new generation Christians in most Jesus freak churches having a Pentecostal mode of worship. I too due to cursed luck or the ugly position of the stars have been born in a traditional Syrian Christian Family. But mentally I have broken all the cultural orthodoxies of tradition by Hellenizing my mind with literature, art, culture, philosophy and music that’s mostly Occidental.
The mindset of a traditional Syrian Christian is one of exaggerated pride especially when it comes to their racial origin. All of them don’t want to be identified with the lower strata of society, the Dalits, the socially challenged class. There are two strands of thought and belief about the origin of Syrian Christians. One is that they were upper class Hindus or Nampoothris. And the legend is the famous St. Thomas, disciple of Jesus Christ came to the shores of Kerala and baptized these upper class Hindus and proselytized them to Christianity. Legend has it that St. Thomas spend a long sojourn of his time in Kerala and was martyred at ST. Thomas Mount in Chennai in India.
Another group of Syrian Christians called the Cananites of Kerala flaunt their racial muscles and identify themselves to be descendents of Kanayithomman who from Syria landed at Kannur. They are very peculiar about their racial purity and seldom intermarry with other Christian communities. But I am sure that Knaithomman and his followers would have intermarried and inbreeded with other races of Kerala. The modern generations Cananites are slowly breaking the vow of being married in the same community. Another curious feature is Syrian Christians of Kerala intermarry but rarely marry into new generation churches especially Pentecostal churches. Another curious phenomenon of proselytization is that nascent Christian converts rarely join the Syrian Christian feathers. The exodus of new Christian converts has been to new generation Christian Churches.
Well said and done most Syrian Christians are die hard materialists but orthodox and pious when it comes to tradition. They respect Christian clergy and observe the rituals of the church to utmost piety. But this kind of adherence is hypocritical but exceptions are there. The clergy especially the Bishops of Syrian Christian churches lead an ostentatious life style using luxury cars and living in palatial mansions. Though they are not allowed to marry most them keep secret mistresses.
Financial security is the bank of these assholes. During early times, they prided themselves as planters. Many affluent Syrian Christian families used to own sprawling rubber, tea and spice estates. Some of them became traders especially textile and gold merchants. However this trend is changing now. The modern Syrian Christians are slowly migrating to foreign pastures as IT professionals and Doctors. They earn, hoard miserly and spend their stinking riches in Kerala conducting princely weddings which have thousands of people and buying super luxury cars. They also give lavishly to the church. Syrian Christians blend money, church, and family as ideal isms to be imbibed and followed.
However when it comes to Art, Literature and Philosophy or a weltanschauung which involves highly developed individuality the Syrian Christian lags behind. He or she neither mimics the Occident nor adapts the Occident. Their only contribution to Art and Culture has been the paltry Margam Kali, a dance which is a hybrid of Kerala’s Thiruvathira dance which portrays Christian ideals. The Syrian Christians as a cultural baggage reveal worst of the East with Money obtained from the West. Suppose a Syrian Christian tries to Hellenize himself with Occidental Literature, Philosophy, Music or Art they will ostracize him from their society or even go to the extent of proclaiming him as being mad.
I as a Syrian Christian shun it leave it as a snake shedding its skin. From a theistic Christian I have grown to agnosticism and then to hard core existential atheism. In an absurd and chaotic world which refuses to yield any sort of meaning one has to avoid suicide and yet authenticate one’s own experiences. Yes I am so fond of Western literature, Philosophy and Art all offering my being a lifeline of living sumptuously so that I can avoid my personal sorrows, failures and misfortunes. I am sure my persistence for Hellenic sublimity and yet never forgetting my Philistine moorings will offer me a life of bliss with new opportunities and new shores of destiny.