Saturday, 15 March 2014

Tamil epistles of King Ahasuerus connecting Holi and Purim



Indian streets are ready to be filled with colour and water mixed with joyous festive atmosphere were white costumes are going to be adorned with the colour as depicted in the famous movie “outsourced”, while Jews have started baking “ozneyhaman” , Israeli streets are ready to welcome the Adloyada Holon and more carnivals, private party filled with full of festive mood ….

According to the Book of Esther, Haman the minister to King Ahasuerus planned to kill all the Jews in the empire, but his plans were foiled by Mordecai and his adopted daughter Esther who had risen to become Queen of Persia. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing. This day of rejoicing or the victory of good over evil is celebrated annually as Purim on 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar. Similarly in India Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox, on the phalguna purnima (Full Moon). The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar, and typically comes in March, sometimes February in the Gregorian calendar. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil. It is a coincidence that these two festivals fall on the same day or almost near.

Does this coincidence have something to do with Jews of India???

Yes it does..

In Dutch abstract of The Chronicles of Jews of Cochin, Leopold Jacob van Dort writes
“In charge of the above mentioned Joseph Halogua, are preserved two epistles, which King Ahasuerus (as it is found in the Book of Esther) sent respecting the affair of Haman and Mordecai, and they are written in the Tamuly language.
“The descendants of the aborigines of Malabar, who go by the name of caieryns or Cannaryns, have still, in their pagodas, or their temples, copies of those letters , and celebrate, on the same day with the Jews, the feast of Purim, and say that day is to be a festive day to them, as an everlasting statue. For they were commanded by their then prince, viz., the King of Puna and Cannara, who held the kingdom under the dominance of Ahasuerus…

Reading his account we get a small clue of an Indian festival celebrated on the same day with the Jews, the feast of Purim. Considering that day is to be a festive day of everlasting statue. The festival falling on the same day is none other Holi. But for me something which really strikes is the Tamil epistles send to Indian by a Persian king.
Interestingly Richard Treloar’s article presented to the Bible and Critical Theory Seminar held at Monash University on August 24, 2000. Under the title: "Rein scribing difference: translating the Scroll of Ahasuerus" , says “The manuscript was found, along with a canonical Esther Scroll מגילת אסתר (Megillat Esther) in one of the synagogues of the so-called 'black Jews' at Cochin on the Malabar coast of India, in the early nineteenth century. Believed to be about 150 years old at the time of discovery, it was copied (so it is asserted by the aforementioned editor) "from an ancient Roll bearing the same title", itself transcribed from "brazen tablets preserved at Goa".

One more thing is clear that the copy in possession with Joseph hallegua was a translated / transcribed version of it. Probably the same Scroll of Ahasuerus מגילת אחשורוש which was found in the synagogue of Malabari Jews as mentioned above.


 The conclusion is made with the strong evidence ie the scroll found was having a preface of unknown scribe. Translated by Thomas Yeates
“The Letter of King Ahasuerus, which Impious Haman sent into all the provinces of India and Ethiopia, in the name of the King. Translated from the Biblia, written in the Greek Tongue by the Seventy Elders in the days of King Ptolemy. And these Chapters are contained among the Books called Apocrypha, or hidden books, and which are not reckoned in the Sacred Canon, whereof there is an evidence in the Talmud, that the wise Men of Israel hid up many Books for some reason, even as is found in the Talmud, Sabbath, Chapter, Col kithbe, that they sought to conceal and lay aside even the Book of Coheleth (Ecclesiastes) itself”

Finally when we read everything together we need to search for the epistle of King Ahasuerus inscribed in a Brass/ copper plate in a temple of Goa; the temple which celebrates festival on the same day of Purim. That’s on a phalguna purnima (full moon) from an Indian perspective.

Discovery of this brass/copper plate will be another greatest achievement. Unless it is found we may have to consider it as a mystery in History.

8 comments:

  1. Hmmmm, very interesting.. who would have thought? Great work Thoufeek.

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  2. Good research material. Was Holi celebrated in south India during those days? It is basically a celebration of vernal equinox, the harbinger of Spring season which is hardly felt in the south of India.

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    1. Name of the festival and the temple are still a mystery. yet to be found...but in I believe the that would be a temple in Goa and a festival which fall on the same day of holi could be a celebration of vernal equinox...I think we need to extend this topic to Goa university. I hope they could be able to help us.

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  3. This is very very interesting! I never knew even the words Purim and Paurnami have a common root word or an incident.

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    1. Purim and Paurnami do not have a common root or origin but as mentioned they are just so co-related in some context in concerned with Jews of Malabar as mentioned in the article.

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  4. Nice post with information about connection of Holi and Equinox. There are places which conducted holi party in goa 2016 . Holi is the one of the most famous festival of India and it spreads unity and integrity.

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  5. This apocryphal book was translateed from Latin into Hebrew appears on Cambridge Ms. MS O0.1.20 from which I published WOrds of Gad the Seer.
    Yeates book is on the web but is worthless.

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