Re: Names of priests of Syriac Jacobite Church
- Dear Moderators:
I am glad that Hon. John and Philip Scaria broght up this topic. It brings up the issue of how we have changed our traditions and faith without realizing it.
I am not a theologian; so our respected clergy can correct me on this. I was under the impression that in church we are only known by the name which was given to us when we are baptized. The baptism name cannot be rathidevan or kamadevan. It will be Abraham, Thomas etc. names that originated from Jewish/Syrian names aka biblical names. We have "pet names" at home that can be local names and many of them have Hindu origins.
In the old days, the pet names were just for use at home and among relatives. (Just like you may have a special name youc all your spouse.) When the child joins school, his/her official school name used to be his baptism name plus the name of his father and sometimes the house name with that. When you go to church and ask for a nercha, his/her baptism name should be given irrespective aht the official name is.
Lately, this tradition is bypassed. The official name became pet name + father's name. This is how we get all this Kamadevan Samuel, Kochumol, Kochumon etc. Our Parumala Thirumeni may be affectionately called Kochu Thirumeni; but his official name is still Mor Gregorios, not Mor Kochu thirumeni.
Names were very important in the old testament times. You are known by your name plus son/daughter of so and so. This is why Moses asked God, 'what should I tell Israelites your name is' and God replied, "I am who I am." Our names are written on the palm of Jesus' hand and we hope that it will also be written in the Life Book maintained by God. I believe we are known by our baptism names to God. That is the only name he recognizes. So, when we come to church, we should be known by our name given at baptism and not by the pet name. There is no question Kamadevan achen is unacceptible. The bishop should give the correct biblical name at the time of ordination.
ID No: 956
- Shibu and Betty came home aghast from watching the Suresh Gopi starrer "Commissioner". "Ente Karthave! What have we done?" "Why did we name our daughter `Shittymol'?? S*IT!"
Parents can name their children whatever they want, but hey just be careful, you don't want to end up in an old age home for naming your kids wrong, do you? :P
That said, I don't really agree with what has been written on this topic by the few respectable members who have chosen to respond. And it's a shame that members having Indian names haven't responded.
Words like "curious","awful","admonish" were freely used by a respected member to describe a name; a name which, according to me, is beautiful. We clearly have different sensibilities!
Another respected member said "The baptism name cannot be rathidevan or kamadevan". Pray tell me why?
We certainly have no problem in using `Diana'. Or should I say `Nayattu devi/Prasava devi/Chandra devi'? FYI Diana was the Roman goddess of the hunt, the moon and birthing.
The respected member further stated, "There is no question Kamadevan achen is unacceptible."
So is `Kallu devan achen' acceptable? Should we name our next bishop `Unmada devan thirumeni'? After all Dionysus was the Greek god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy. Dionysius surely will give Kamadevan a run for his money.
Is there something lacking in our home grown Hindu gods that they are taboo? Why is only the Greek/Roman gods that are kosher?
It's time to acknowledge that Christian names shouldn't only comprise of Judaeo-Hellenic names. Names originating from any culture in the world can be used by Christians.
Saul after his transformation used a Roman name for his missionary work. The church was no longer exclusively Judean. It was thrown open to all gentiles coming from different culture. Many of our Church fathers didn't feel the need to change their name after converting to Christianity. They continued to use names having origins in their culture. A culture what we derogatorily call "pagan". Among our brethren in the Syriac Orthodox Church Arabic names are commonly used; whether the person is an ecclesiastic or not. They didn't discard their old culture in favour of their new faith. After all culture is part of one's identity. Our early church fathers have realized this and have tried to accommodate facets of various cultures into the once Judean religion. We can see this happening here too. For instance, the use of `minnu' or `thaali' have been adapted in our marriage ceremony quite successfully. There are countless other practices that have been assimilated by the Church illustrating its cosmopolitan nature. So I don't think "we have changed our traditions and faith without realizing it" by opting for a name having an origin in our native culture
Before I conclude I would like to congratulate the deacon, whose name prompted this discussion, on his marriage. `Ratheesh' also means `lord of love' in addition to `lord of sex'. The former can be universally applied but better restrict the latter to your wife: P And in any case the meaning of names doesn't necessarily reflect one's character. After all Lucifer's was a beautiful name with quite a nice meaning to it and look how he ended up. So, if you ever become a priest, just make sure you love all your flock. Without any partiality I might add ;)
I would like to end by quoting Stanley Samartha, `I am,' he said, `a Christian by faith, Hindu by culture, Indian by citizenship and ecumenical in the deepest and widest sense of the term.'
Zach George Arapura
- I have a number of responses on this subject from various circles, personally, over phones and through these columns
A friend of mine was about to name his son A-MA-LAN. But I advised him against the proposal. The friends of Amalan in his school days is sure to call him Malan dropping the letter `A` from the head of the name. If Amalan is to show any slackness in his studies at least some of his teachers will, to be sure, tease him calling him Malan
I have had in my college life a few friends who hail from Coonan Venga ( Coonan is the same Coonan in Coonan-kurisu-sathyam and Venga is a large tree) While travelling in public service vehicles, when the conductor asked them to tell their destinations for enabling him to give them travelling tickets of appropriate value they looked perplexed and perturbed to utter the word Coonan Venga. The people of the area became very much annoyed with the name and they found a solution; yes, they changed the name of the place and it is now known as SA- NTHI- PU-RAM.
There is a place in Kottayam District called PA-TTI-KKA-D which is now named SU-VA-RNA-GI-RI . The head-quarters of our St Paul's Mission of India is PA-TTI-MA-TT-OM. in Ernakulam District. I have requested the Mission to specify in their communications that its HQ is at Bha-tti-ma-ttom of course giving the PIN Code in them. And in no time the place will be known as Bhattimattom transforming PA-TTI to BHA-TTI
A friend of mine whose name was A N T H R A Y O S E changed it as Andrews in his thirties; Carlos another friend of mine in his forties changed his name as Joseph.Both of them were Class I Gazetted Officers of the Government of Kerala. These two instances I mention just to show that there are no insurmountable difficulties for changing a name.
Our Rev.Deacon shall have years and years of fruitful and purposeful christian public life as a Rev. Father and subsequently as a Very Rev.Cor-Episcopos. At times this name will punch his personality. So my humble submission is that the name could be changed.as Rajesh or as Rajeesh. The best proposal is to substitute that word with the name he was called by Rooho Khaadeeso when he was baptised.so that we may call him Rev.Fr.Mathew Eapen, Jacob Eapen, Chacko Eapen, Kuriakose Eapen, George Eapen or Geevargis Eapen.
The priests officiating in the Holy Confession will have to hear about sins in the areas of sodomy and lesbianism for which the Malayalam word is SWA-VA-RGA-RETHI or RE-THY-VY-KRU-THAM Our Achan may have to hear those words from confessors kneeling before him always blushing if and when the word RETHY is mentioned by any confessor.
It was years back that I myself had to tell my Surgeon who conducted a cryosurgery in my body " Doctor, It was really a CALAMITY that I had to come to you for the cryosurgery'' It was only subsequently that I learned that the doctor`s nick-name in the medical circles is DR. CALAMITY !!
V T John