Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Synagogues of Kerala - III

Lost synagogues of Kerala - II
Northern Kerala.

Synagogues of Madayi & Ezhimala.

Madayi near to Ezhimala is in the province of Cannanore (Kannur). Madayi is believed to be one of the oldest Jewish settlements according to Kerala Jewish traditions, probability of a synagogue in the vicinity is very much clear. More details regarding the Jewish settlement is not much found but “Malik Bin Habib, who established the Madayi Mosque, found Jews in the place, they used to have a place of worship at “Heli Madayi” ( Muslim History of Kerala, P.A. Syed Mohammed) Heli Madayi is the place identified with Madayi Para, were only a Jewish Pond is remaining. This place was the residence for the brahmins, jews, christians, muslims and buddists.

Marvel is mentioned as the third center of Jews by medieval travelers,   Ezhimala, also known as Monte D’ely to Portuguese, Mount Delly to English from the account of Malik Bin Habib, the existence of Jews in Ezhimala is known and there would have flourished a community and probability of the synagogue cannot be denied. So there is a maximum possibility of three settlements, ie in

Madayi – According to Kerala Jewish tradition,
Ezhimala and Madayipara - It is believed that there was a Jewish settlement site near the Ezhimal Naval academy and in Madayipara still the Jewish pond is there

Jewish Pond in Madayipara, known as Juda Kulam

This community would have vanished during the Portuguese established their Fort or invasion. This community would have migrated to any other jewish community of south. This community would be the parental community of the other later Jewish of northern Kerala.

Synagogue of Flandrina / Panthalayini Kollam

Panthilayini Kollam, it is the same Fandarina of Edrisi, Fandaraina of Ibnu battuta and Rashiduddin, Fundaraina fundreeah of Sheik Zainuddin Makdoom, Coulotte of Francois Pyarard, Flandrina of Friar Odoric, Kollottu or Kolottunad by locals.
Was the second great center of Jews in Malabar, This lost Port of Kerala north to the Koyilandy, and near to Calicut.  Jews resided here is Mentioned in the reports of Friar Odorico De Pordenone (The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the ... By Richard Hakluyt Pg 412) who passed by around the period of 1330, he mentions pepper & trade at Flandrina. He also mentions that Christians and Jews reside there. 
“And the forest in which the pepper growth for a good eighteen day’s journey, and in that forest there be two cities, the one whereof is called Flandrina and the other Cyngilin. In the city of Flandrina some inhabitatnts were Jews and some are Christians; and between those two cities there is always internal war, but the result is always that the Christians beat and overcome the Jews.”

So no more details are required to state that there existed a synagogue in Panthilayini Kollam.
Synagogue of Calicut

The origin of the Jewish settlement of Calicut is not known, but it would have been an off shoot of the Jews of Madayi, Shaliat (Chaliyam) Flandrina (Panthilayini Kollam). But this community would have nourished by later by Jews of south or more precisely by Cochin Jews.
Calicut port on Malabar Coast, Shaliat and Flandrina, both close to Calicut, are mentioned by Muslim and Christian geographers of the 12th and 13th centuries as having Jewish settlements. The presence of Jewry in Calicut was mention along with the arrival of Vasco da Gama. With the coming of the Portuguese to India, travelers such as Girolamo Sernigi (1453 - 1510) refer to the Jewish association with Calicut.
“He (a jewish pilot) says that there are not many Jews there (Calicut) ; and that there is a King of the Jews of the ten tribes of the Jewish people which went out of Egypt.”
Ludovico di Varthema (early 16th century) mentions
“There was also a Jew here who had built a very beautiful galley and had made four mortars of iron The said Jew going to wash himself in a pond of water was drowned.”
 Abraham Farissol ben Mordecai in his Iggeret Orḥot Olam (completed in 1524A.D; printed Venice, 1587 A.D) alluded to the presence of Jews in Calicut and the neighboring islands. While the Portuguese historian Gaspar Correia speaks in 1536 of the great number of Jews in Calicut, the Yemenite traveler Zechariah b. Saadiah (16th century) looked in vain for coreligionists there. But alike other lost Jewish community’s history Francois Pyrard (1607 AD), clearly mention about this medieval community, that they had their own Jewish quarter and synagogue in Calicut
And the rare Dutch abstract record of the Sefer Yasher (A Hebrew Chronicles found in custody Jews of Cochin) by Leopold Emanuel Jacob Van Dort (AD 1757), a Jewish convert to Christian recorded “A.M. 5410, and A.D. 1650, on the 5th day of the month Sh’vat (i.e January), died the last of the family of their Rabbi, Whose name was Joshiah, Prince of the Jews of Malabar, Who resided at Calicut.” 

This information about a Jewish quarter, synagogue of a under a community leader had made me to think about the possibility of a Jew street in Calicut. I had browsed in the net to get any address from Calicut with the suffix Jew street, I found an address of an electric appliances company, with a phone number and I had a forwarded it to Mr. Ramachandran the author of the blog Calicut Heritage, whom I had thought would be the best, and he was. He took it so serious and his enthusiastic approach has made Adv. Madhusoodan, to find this place. The pin code mentioned in the address was the key to find the place.  You can fetch more details from his blog - Calicut Heritage

Dr. David G. Mandelbaum, an American anthropologist in his article "The Jewish Way of Life in Cochin," records the following tradition current among the Jews of Cochin, India: “While the Jews could scarcely defend themselves against great armies of marauders, it is clear that they were proficient in arms. The two great opponents of the Malabar coast, the Raja of Cochin and the Zamorin of Calicut, each had a brigade of Jewish soldiers in their forces.” 
This also gives us a hint of existence of the Jewish presence in Calicut, i.e. Jewish soldiers.

Synagogue of Shaliat

Chaliyam was called as Shaliat by Arabians, Chale by Portuguese, Chaly by Francois Pyrard. Arab historian and geographer Abu’l Fida Ismail Hamvi’s (1273 - 1331 AD)  Taqwim al-Buldan, mentions “ The town of Shaliyat that is inhabited by Jews”. 
The presence of a Jewish settlement in Chaliyam was even mentioned by Velayudhan Panikkasherri, a local historian.

The presence of Jews in Dharmapattanam, Mangalore were also mentioned by some historians but there is no proof of the existence of a community. Story of Abraham Ben Yuji proves that.

1 comment:

  1. Appreciate your effort for this collection of information about a lost community of kerala, India. This would be a reference for the coming generations. May God help you find more evidences to know the History in a clearer picture.