Migrators with unique traditions
MYSORE: Syrian orthodox Christians are largely found in Kerala and are basically agriculturists. Decades ago, they migrated to different parts of India in search of jobs when they could not sustain their families through farming activities. A section of them relocated to Mysore and settled here.
Camera technician Varghese K V, a community member, says about 120 Syrian orthodox Christian families are in Mysore right now. Many of them are from south Kerala. "We are not aware of the facilities provided by the government and the officials seem to have not taken us into account," he states. Nevertheless, they continue their charity works. They run a school for the mentally retarded children in Hunsur and an institution for children, whose parents are tested HIV positive, in Kunigal in Tumkur district. Besides, they also do community services by educating women on various issues.
Varghese claims that a majority of them are from well-to-do families and they are unique in their traditions including marriage programmes. They do not prefer weddings among relatives and members of same family names like Kuttikattil, Mananthan and Cheeran. According to Varghese, betrothal is conducted twice before the marriage in their community. First, the family members organize engagement programme without bridegroom at the bride's residence and later officially, the ring ceremony is organized at the church.
This apart, they celebrate saint Gregorian festival like Christmas and Easter festivals. Varghese says respective church members celebrate festival of saints in which their churches St Gregorian, St Mary and St Thomas etc are established.
Speaking of his family tree, Varghese said his father K V Appukunjan moved to Kodagu from his native pazhanji in Kerala in early 1970s and then his brother K V Appu came to Karnataka. Varghese, who studied in Mysore, shifted to the city in late 1980s.