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Playing Host to DeityFestival Religion in the South Indian Tradition$
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Paul Younger

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140446

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195140443.001.0001

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The Window Opens in Mannarkat

The Window Opens in Mannarkat

A Vision of Mary in a Syrian Christian Church of Kerala

(p.118) 10 The Window Opens in Mannarkat
Playing Host to Deity

Paul Younger

Oxford University Press

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

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