The Window Opens in Mannarkat

Paul Younger

in Playing Host to Deity

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780195140446
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834907 | DOI:
 The Window Opens in Mannarkat

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The well‐known festival of the Jacobite Syrian Church in Mannarkat in the center of Kerala is clear evidence that festival activity was part of the religious system for all South Indians. This Syrian Christian church is often ”twinned” by people in Mannarkat with the Hindu temple of Bhagavat a mile away, and many worshipers attend the festivals in both locations. The trading community of Syrian Christians had grown from the second century on in the towns around the port city of Koukar, but at some time, leaders in the community led a migration to central Kerala where the trade in spices from the mountains could be controlled more directly. The Mannarkat church claims to have been the first one established after the move, and it still maintains close ties with the churches in the Koukar region and includes an umbrella procession (a privilege of Christians according to an eighth century copperplate inscription) in its festival celebration. The festival today includes some trance and exorcism, but the central focus is on the moment late in the festival when a tiny window opens high up in the wall of the church and everyone suddenly sees the mysterious and wondrous form of Mary and the baby.

Keywords: Bhagavati; Christian; Church; exorcism; Jacobite; Mannarkat; Syrian; trance; umbrella procession; window

Chapter.  3180 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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