Posts Tagged 'religion'

sri krishna jayanthi and the legends of parana kananam

Posted by on 12 Aug 2009 | Category: india, kerala, photography


unnikannans, sri krishna jayanthi at bharananganam, kerala

Young krishnas playing the flute

gopalans, sri krishna jayanthi at bharananganam, kerala

Shy gopikas…

gopikas, sri krishna jayanthi at bharananganam, kerala

Unnikannan in an autorikshaw

unnikannan in autorikshaw

Sri Krishna Jayanthi is celebrated as a festival, reminiscing the birthday of Krishna. This year it is on 13-14 August 2009 in north India, but on 11 September 2009 in Kerala, due to the differences in the regional calendars. The images above are from the Sri Krishna Jayanthi of 2007, at the Sree Krishna Swamy Temple located close to my home, at Bharananganam in Kottayam, Kerala, India.

Few people know that the place name Bharananganam itself -probably- owes its origin to the legends associated with the Sree Krishna Swamy Temple. The temple is revered as very ancient, and legend is that the Pandavas stayed here for a while during their vanavasa (forest exile). Pandavas conducted their ‘Parana veedal’ (breaking the fast or vow) ritual here to end their vratha (vow). Since the place was used for ‘Parana veedal’, it came to be known as Parana kananam, as kananam in malayalam is forest. Later it evolved as Bharananganam. The presence of the temple has also given Bharananganam a synonym, Dakshina Guruvayoor. Dakshina is south and Guruvayoor in Thrissur district is famous for its Krishna Temple.

So, that is another face of Bharananganam, which is more popular these days as a christian pilgrim centre – of St. Alphonsa, whose mortal remains are kept in the Alphonsa Chapel near the St. Mary’s Church. Based on some historical accounts, I would say that this church stands as a symbol of harmony as the church was found (it is said, a 1000 years before) with the assistance of the local community including aids from the nearby Sree Krishna Swamy Temple.

kerala christian names, their origin and english equivalents

Posted by on 26 Jan 2009 | Category: india, kerala, life

It has been several years since we have been working on our genealogy database / family tree. Working on it is reveling, and revealing as you end up learning a lot about ones own ancestry and the stories surrounding it. One of the factors which grab attention while updating the database are the names. On the upper steps of the ladder, the names are mostly repetitive. These are the traditional kerala christian names, which have been handed over through generations, and have been used extensively until 1950s/independence (eg: Kunnappallil descendancy chart through the generations).

Naming convention
The repetitive nature is mostly due to the naming convention followed: The eldest son/daughter carrys the name of the paternal grand father/mother. The second son/daughter carrys the name of the maternal grand father/mother. If you summarise these names, you can see that all those widely used kerala christian names count upto just a few, like ~25 for males and ~10 for females. A compilation of these names, with their origin, have been given in tabular form below.

Names, Origin and their Malayalam variants

English Origin Origin.Script Malayalam
Abraham Hw. Avraham אַבְרָהָם Avira, Avaran, Avarachan
Alexander Gr. Alexandros Αλεξανδρος Chandy, Idiculla
Cyriac Rm. Cirieco Kurian
Cyril Gr. Kyrillos Κυριλλος Korula, Kuruvilla
David Hw. Dvd דוד Tharian, Thavu
Dominic Lt. Dominicus Dummini
Emmanuel Hw. Mani
Francis Lt. Franciscus Pranji, Pranju, Porinju
George Gr. Georgios Γεωργιος Varghese, Varkey, Vakkachan,
Vareethu, Geevarghese
Ignatius Rm. Egnatius Inasu
Issac Hw. Yitzchaq יִצְחָק Ittack, Itty
Issac Abraham Ittyavirah, Ittiyerah
Jacob Hw. Ya’aqov יַעֲקֹב Chacko, Yakob
John Hw. Yochanan יוֹחָנָן Yohannan, Ulahannan, Lonan,
Lonappan, Ninan
Joseph Hw. Yosef יוֹסֵף Yesoph, Ouseph, Outha, Ipe,
Ittoop, Kunjeppu, Joppan
Joshua Hw. Yehoshu’a יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Koshy, Eenashu, Easow
Luke Gr. Loukas Λουκας Lukose
Mathew Hw. Mattityahu מַתִּתְיָהוּ Mathew, Mathai, Mathan,
Mathu, Mathulla
Mark Rm. Marcus Markose
Paul Lt. Paulus Paulose, Paili, Pailo
Peter Gr. Petros Πετρος Pathros, Pathappan
Philip Gr. Philippos Φιλιππος Philipose, Peeli, Pothan
Sebastian Lt. Sebastianus Devasy, Devasia, Devasianos
Stephen Gr. Stephanos Στεφανος Eapen, Esthappan, Punnoose, Uthup
Thomas Ar. Te’oma Thomma, Thampan, Mamman,
Zachariah Hw. Zekharyah זְכַרְיָה Cheriyan, Kuncheria, Karia, Scaria
English Origin Origin.Script Malayalam
Anna Hw. Channah חַנָּה Annamma
Bridgit Ir. Brighid Bridgita
Elizabeth Hw. Elisheva אֱלִישֶׁבַע Elisa, Elia, Elacha, Eliamma
Mary Hw. Miryam מִרְיָם Mariam, Maria, Mariamma
Rachel Hw. רָחֵל Rahel
Rebecca Hw. Rivqah רִבְקָה Akka, Raca, Akkamma
Rosa Ger. Rose Orotha, Kunjorotha
Sarah Hw. Sara Saramma
Susan Hw. Shoshannah שׁוֹשַׁנָּה Susanna, Sosa, Sosamma, Achamma
Theresa Sp. Teresa Thresia, Therthia, Theyya, Iyya,

Hw. Hebrew, Gr. Greek, Lt. Latin, Rm. Roman, Ar. Armenian, Ir. Irish, Ger. Germanian, Sp. Spanish
It is to be noted that the origin mentioned here is not the immediate origin from where the malayalam name originated, but the root of the name. The english equivalents given here are those used locally (in Kerala). Hovering your mouse over the english equivalents will give the extended meanings of the respective names.

There are still other kerala christian names out there, and do comment us about them. Yet to identify the origin of names like Dummini, Outha, Kuriakose (Cyril or Cyriac?) etc., if there are any. There is a school of thought which says that ‘Itty’ is used as a prefix, like kutty, kunju etc. For example, usage of Itty Ipe, Itty Avirah etc could be analogous to Kutty Varkey, Kunju Ipe, etc. Hence do not take this list as conclusive or exhaustive.

Transition in the naming style
The transition beyond the 1950s (post independence) brought a multitude of names to the kerala christian name group, from simply the english quivalents (eg: George, Thomas) to the two-syllabled names (Sunny, Lisy) to the combination of parents’ names (eg: child of Sunny and Lisy will be Susy) to all kind of possible sounds! Sometimes while updating the database, I have the names but I would get stuck in identifying the gender of the person. Like, in our genealogy database of 2200+ (current figures), there are 9 of which I could not identify the gender by name.

3. Cross reference: The Syrian Christians by S.G. Pothen; from an article by Nidhin Olikara on

kozhikode and kuttichira mishkal mosque

Posted by on 14 Jan 2009 | Category: india, kerala, life, photography

A few days at kozhikode opened up a myriad of reasons in our heart to say that it is one of the best places we have been, so far. The varied cultural/historical/architectural diversities which it still preserves, the astounding friendliness rendered by the people, the geographical beauty along with the beaches, all made kozhikode a place close to our heart.

Kozhikode was supposed to be only a ‘stop by’ during our kerala trip. It ended up as one of our  major destinations. One reason could be the contrast in the regions within kerala. Though we belong to the pala (specifically bharananganam) nazrani achayan clan, boasting a  rich cultural and traditional backup, much of it is on the fading route. This could be one of the reasons that kozhikode, less influenced by westernization and still preserving a lot of its unique culture, came up as a heaven on earth for us.

Kuttichira community
The city centre itself is filled with a lot of smaller localities surrounding mosques and temples. One of our first venture was the Kuttichira community, specifically the Mishkal Mosque, Kuttichira Tank and the Juma Masjid. Though we started off as enthusiastic tourists, we ended up researching the history, culture, architecture and the community of the area. The local community were a lot enthusiastic to provide information, which showed their friendliness.

Mishkal Mosque at Kuttichira, Kozhikode, was built by Nakhuda Mishkal in the 14th century. Nakhuda Mishkal was a renowned trader and ship owner from Yemen. The title Nakhuda is of persian origin, meaning Captain of the ship; from nāv = boat + khudā = master. As you can see, the mosque was designed in the traditional kerala architecture of that period.

Mishkal Mosque at Kuttichira, Kozhikode

The Mishkal Mosque at Kuttichira stands as a symbol of communal harmony. In 1510 AD, the Portuguese had attacked the mosque and partially destroyed it. Supposedly, their mission was to divide and rule, breaking the harmony between hindus and muslims. The Samoothiri (Zamorin), the local ruler at that time, didn’t fall for this and helped in defending and repairing the mosque. 

The mosque was 5 storeyed, but after the destruction, it remained as a 4 storeyed structure. The walls of the mosque, except the ground floor are made of wood. Remnants of the portuguese destruction can still be seen on the upmost floor.

Do you know that the burka/purdah came to Kerala as part of the fashion and modernity, which was Arab influenced?

Mishkal Mosque at Kuttichira, Kozhikode

The kids in the locality actively involved in performing before our video/still cameras too.

Diving at Kuttichira Tank, Kozhikode

As per the local residents: the area surronding this vast pool is a place akin to the Piazzas (Squares) of Italy, where the locals meet and the day/nightlife activities are carried out.

Diving Acrobatics at Kuttichira Tank, Kozhikode

Shoal of fishes at the Kuttichira Tank…

Shoal of fishes at the Kuttichira Tank

Thanks to all Kuttichira residents for opening up a new world for us! We will surely visit you again.

Smiling faces.Around the Kuttichira Mishkal Mosque, Kozhikode

More photographs on the Kuttichira Mishkal area are available at

Geographical Location of the Kuttichira Mishkal Mosque is given below. Zoom In, and you can see a temple like mosque in front of the large rectangular tank! Easily accessible by road from the Beach Road.

Get Directions