|Servants of God|
|Knanaya migration to Cambridge |
|When the UK government launched the managed migration from 2000 for legal labour under various schemes, it was felt
that it would bring in skills which are in short supply in the UK. Majority of the female keralities choose the medical profession
so they are able to widen their scope of employment to around the world and in return are able to up their living standard.
In the UK various medical professions fell under the shortage occupation and thus led to the migration of Keralite nurses, doctors
and other professional to migrate to the UK for prosperity and a better standard of living. This slowly led to the migration of
Knanaya catholics to the famous educational city of Cambridge.
Although there were a few families residing in Cambridge since 2000, it was not until late 2004 a group of about
10 families decided to form an association. In 2007 it obtained the UKKCA membership. It then gradually grew in
number and as of 2012 the association comprises of 21 families.
We belong to the Archdioceses of Kottayam, Kerala under Archbishop of Kottayam, Mar Mathew Moolakkatt. We live here
keeping our customs, traditons and values and inspire our children to adopt the morals and traditions while
integrating with UK culture.
|Knanaya History |
|Knanaya community traces its origin from a group of Jewish-Christian emigrants from Cana (Southern Mesopotamia), belonging to
East Syrian Church (Chaldean), to
the South Indian port of Cranganore in AD 345. They co-existed peacefully in the
Indian nation and fulfilled their missionary purpose of re-invigorating the Church of St Thomas Christians. The
original community consisted of about 400 persons belonging to 72 families of seven septs headed by Thomas of
Kynai (knai). A bishop by name Uraha Mar Yousef, four priests and several deacons were among them.
Knananites are a very distinct ethnic and religious group whose ancestry traces back to Abraham, the Patriarch of
the Old Testament. Israelites became slaves in Egypt and God delivered them through Moses and finally Joshua led
the 12 tribes of Israel to Canaan in 1250 BC. David became king (1004-965 BC) and Solomon, who built the first
temple in Jerusalem, succeeded. After Solomon's death in 928 BC, two sister kingdoms evolved in Israel: the
northern kingdom with the descendants of ten tribes (Kingdom of Israel), and the southern kingdom with the
descendants of Judah and Benjamin (Kingdom of Judah). The southern kingdom remained loyal to the David dynasty
and never intermarried with others. Knai Thoma and his people were the descendants of the two tribes of the
southern kingdom (tribes of Judah and Benjamin). In 720 BC the Kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyrians and
in 580 BC Kingdom of Judah was conquered by Nebuchadnezzer of Babylonia, and their respective inhabitants were
exiled. The Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed. When Persians conquered Babylonia, Cyrus ( the new ruler) allowed
Jews to return to Jerusalem and eventually the second temple was built in 515 BC.
In Judea, the Community continued in theocracy. Alexander the great conquered Judea in 332 BC. With the Roman
occupation of Judea in 63 BC, it became a Roman Province and Herod was proclaimed as the king of Judea.
While Judea was ruled by Roman governors and procurators outburst and rebellions became severe and frequent.
It was in this period that our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified by the Romans (30 AD). A great revolt (66 AD)
broke out and Jerusalem was besieged in 70 AD and the second temple was destroyed. After the Bar Kokhba war
(132-135 AD) the Jewish populations of Judea were either dead, enslaved or in flight. Jerusalem and its
environs were settled by non-Jews, but Galilee remained the bastion of Judaism. Many Jews fled to various
parts of the world and in this context Jewish colonies were established along the Malabar coast in India.
Twenty years after the Nicean Council (synod), Knai Thoma, a rich international merchant from Cana, brought a
colony of 400 Syrian Christians consisting of 72 families belonging to 7 clans with instructions from the
Patriarch of Antioch, Mar Yusthedius, to the Malabar coast of India. The group included men, women, children,
priests, deacons and their bishop Mar Joseph of Urfa (Uraha/Edessa). The names of the seven clans were: Bagi,
Belkuth, Hadai, Kujalig, Koja, Mugmuth, and Thegmuth. The legend is that Mar Joseph had a startling dream (vision)
in which he saw the plight of the Christian church in Malabar established by St. Thomas, the Apostle, in the 1st
Century. Mar Joseph and Knai Thoma landed in Kodungalloor (Crangannoore) in 345 AD. Knai Thoma and his group
sailed in three ships. The leading ship called "Babylonia" had three masts. The main mast flew King David's flag,
the second mast flew the Roman flag with the cross, and the third flew King Abgar of Edessa's flag.
Knai Thoma and his people were heartily welcomed by Cheraman Perumal, the Emperor. Cheraman Perumal sent his
brother, Ramavarma, and his minister, Vettathu Mannan, to receive Knai Thoma and his people. Knai Thoma and
his people were given permission to settle down in Kodungalloor and to do business. Later Cheraman Perumal
bestowed Knai Thoma and his people with 72 princely privileges and there by elevated them over 17 castes.
This proclamation was made on a Saturday in March (Kumbham 29), 345 and it was recorded on copper plates given
to Knai Thoma (Knai Thomman Cheppedu).
Knai Thoma and his people built a town in Kodungalloor with a church and 72 houses. The natives called it
"Mahadevar Pattanam" meaning "town of superiors". Knai Thoma and his people converted many natives to Christianity
and built many churches. Thus the arrival of Knai Thoma and his people (Knananites) reestablished the church
founded by St. Thomas, the Apostle.
Knanaya Christians are the descendants of these Jewish Christian immigrants in Kerala. They were also called
Southists (Thekkumbhagar) because they lived on the south side of Kodungalloor. The St. Thomas Christians
(native Christians of Kerala) who lived on the north side of Kodungalloor were known as Northists (Vadakkumbhagar).
Another tradition is that Knananites settled down on the south side of Periyar river while the native Christians
lived on the north side of the river. It is also stated that Knananites were called Southists because they came
from the southern kingdom of Judah. Knananites did not intermarry with native
Christians and maintained their Jewish tradition originating from Abraham. To this date the Knananites continue
as an endogamous community.
On August 29, 1911 the Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam was re-constituted exclusively for the Knanaya Community by
the Apostolic letter "Universi Christiani" of His Holiness Pope St Pius X.
On December 21, 1923 the Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam was raised to an Eparchy by Pope Pius XI. When the
territorial limits of the Syro-Malabar Church was extended in 1955, the jurisdiction of the Eparchy of Kottayam
also was made co-extensive with the then extended territory of the Syro-Malabar Church.