Kerala Jacobite Matrimony
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The foundations of the Jacobite Church have its roots in the apostolic days under St Thomas around 52 AD. St Thomas established seven churches in as many places in Kerala which include the churches of Kodungallore, Paravur, Kokkamangalam, Palayur, Niranam, Chayal, Korakkeni, Kollam and Thiruvankottu. The present day Christians descended from these Churches. The Jacobite Syrian Christians recognises t he Syrian Orthodox patriarch of Antioch as its spiritual head.

Since the history of the Jacobite Syrian Church goes back a few centuries ago, and because the first Jacobites were initially Hindus before they were converted to Christianity, it is not surprising that many of the rituals and practices seen in Jacobite Churches have a resonance in Hindu customs and practices. Since marriages are social ceremonies, weddings become the prized event where one gets to see a plethora of intermingling and interw oven customs. The minnukettu equivalent of thaalichaarth in Hindu weddings, dowry system and so on are customs that have found their way into the jacobite wedding rituals from other religions.

Some Syrian Jacobites still believe in the authentici of horoscopes and astrology and it plays an important role in arranging a wedding. Like in most Christian sects, arranged marriages are not just common, but they are the norm. A Jacobite Syrian Wedding service in conducted in Malayalam and Syriac, an Aramic language, believed to have been spoken by Jesus and his followers, bot h. The verses are usually in Syriac and are sung in a lilting tone by the presiding priests. The groom, dressed smartly in a suit and the bride dressed in white, either a saree or a gown stand in front of the altar for the ceremonies to begin. The chief priest sings a few chosen verses in Syriac which are often repeated by other priests present at the ceremony. Once this is over, the priest blesses the maanthrakodi and the minnu, which are kept on the altar table with the sacred cross.

This done, the priest then moves towards the groom, and blesses him with the cross, after which he puts a gold chain with a cross around the groom’s neck. The same is repeated with the bride too. After this, the customs that follow are essentially similar to any other Christian wedding. The minnukettal, draping of the manthrakodi over the bride’s head are all akin to wedding customs in other churches.

The distinguishing feature of Jacobite weddings is the music. The church choir sings popular Jacobite Wedding songs like Vaaneenudayon, Edan thottam, aadimaneethi throughout the ceremony. This make the whole ceremony, which is usually slightly longer than wedding ceremonies of certain other sects, both entertaining as well as beautiful.