hailed, as God's own country, by many, deserves
this accolade because of many features geographical
and sociological. A long coastline in the west
and mountains on the east forming clear natural
boundaries. Religion has played a crucial role
in Kerala's culture. There are mainly three religions
in Kerala - Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.
As far as the religion of Kerala is concerned,
the origins could be traced to Hinduism.
came in the Islamic faith and Christianity with
its various sects. The other Indian religions
like Buddhism; Jainism had some influence among
the Hindus and was found scattered with their
migration to Kerala.
to the 1991 census 57.38% of the population of
Kerala are Hindus, 23.33 Muslims and 19.32 Christians.
The earliest settlers of Kerala were the Proto-Australoids,
the Mediterranean, Dravidians, and the Aryans
in 321-297 BC.
the world's oldest religion dates back to about
5000 BC. The sacred texts include the Vedas, Epics
and Puranas, apart from other philosophical treatises.
Hinduism is a way of life and is based on the
principle of Sanathana Dharma. The Hindus worship
the Supreme Being under three forms, Brahma- the
creator, Vishnu- the preservator and Shiva - destroyer.
differs from Christianity and other Western religions
in that it does not have a single founder, a specific
theological system, a single system of morality,
or a central religious organization. It consists
of "thousands of different religious groups
that have evolved in India since 1500 BCE."
religion is called:
Sanatana Dharma, "eternal religion,"
Vaidika Dharma, "religion of the Vedas,"
Hinduism -- the most commonly used name.
Various origins for the word "Hinduism"
have been suggested:
It may be derived from an ancient inscription
translated as: "The country lying between
the Himalayan mountain and Bindu Sarovara is known
as Hindusthan by combination of the first letter
'hi' of 'Himalaya' and the last compound letter
'ndu' of the word `Bindu.'
is called the Cape Comorin sea in modern times.
It may be derived from the Persian word for Indian.
It may be a Persian corruption of the word Sindhu
(the river Indus). More...
With time, the religion of the Namboothiris too,
had been influenced by the animistic and ancestor
worship of the early Dravidians. The Aryan settlers
from the north too formed a religious community
by assimilating the forms of worship of the Dravidian
inhabitants. With time, the religion of the Namboothiris
too, had been influenced by the animistic and
ancestor worship of the early Dravidians. The
Aryan settlers from the north too formed a religious
community by assimilating the forms of worship
of the Dravidian inhabitants.
The Hindus thus worshipped the Supreme Being under
three forms, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva representing
the creative, preservative, and the destructive
forces. Rama, Krishna and other divinities are
the avataras reflecting the later developments
of Pauranic Hinduism.
there was no sharp demarcation of sects in Kerala,
unlike the sects in North India. If any preferential
adoration was shown by any person, the reason
was that, it was the presiding deity in the village
temple or his/her Ishta Devata or Kula Daivam
The religion of the common people too became an
elevated form of the earlier Dravidian religion.
The refined gods replaced the rude divinities
that once occupied the highest echelons. Later,
the various castes like Ezhavas, Nadars, Uralis
were formed on the basis of their occupation.
is believed entered into India through Kerala.
There are historical records of commercial trading
between Kerala and Middle East during 7th Century
AD. The Jews and Arabs of the Pre-Islamic period
were among the pioneers of spice trade with Kerala.
The religion of Islam was also by these traders
from Middle East, who later settled in Coastal
belt of Kerala. To this day Muslims are very proficient
in trade and commerce. Muslims in Kerala, as anywhere
else in the world, are close-knit unit clear-cut
religious and political agenda.
says that Muslim history in Kerala go back to
7th century AD when the religion originated in
Arabia. The numbers increased in the 9th century.
In the 8th century there were many centers for
religious conversion in the state. Pallibana Perumalís
(He was one of the prominent king of Cheraman
Perumal dynasty who embraced Islam ) pilgrimage
to Mecca was a major influence in this regard.
It is believed that Malik Ibn Dinar, a disciple
of Prophet Mohammed was the first person who propogated
Islam in Kerala. The history of Muslims in Kerala
is closely intertwined with the history of Muslims
in nearby Laccadives islands.
Rebellion of 1921 was a great chapter of India's
freedom struggle. It was the expression of the
built up frustration and rage amongst Muslims
against British Government and landlords. Variyankode
Kunhahammad Haji, Ali Musliar and Veliyankod Umar
Khazi were the prominent Muslim leaders who lead
this rebellion. The British tried to split the
Hindus and Muslims as part of their 'divide and
rule' strategy. Many Muslims were hanged or deported.
The British were eventually forced to abandon
their scheme to deport large numbers of Muslims
to Andamans. Relief organizations came to the
aid of widows and orphans. One of the orphanages
established of this purpose still exists on Maryhill
in Calicut. None of the community in Kerala lost
wealth and people compared to Muslims of Kerala,
especially from Malabar.
educational and service organizations evolved
around Muslim religious institutions. Ponnani
was a major center of higher learning. Students
from foreign lands came to study there. There
were institutes attached to mosques in Ponnani,
Thanoor, Thirurangadi, Parappanangadi, Nadapuram,
Kodiyathur, Mahi, Vadakara and Payannur some 700
From the end of the 19th century to the first
three decades of this century those who led the
community include Hamadini Sheik, Vakkam Abdul
Kadar Maulavi, and K.M. Seethi Sahib. A number
of social and political organizations have formed
to enhance English and modern education among
Muslims.Vakkam Abdul Kadar Moulavi was a leader
who made significant contributions in the social
arena from 1873 to 1933. He was the founder of
the famous newspaper 'Swadeshabhimani' and two
Muslim League the first true political organization
came in to being in 1937.Leaders like K. M. Seethi
Sahib joined the Muslim League from Congress.In
the first elections in Travancore Muslim League
and Congress ran under an alliance. Mr. T. A.
Abdulla became a minister. In Cochin state Mr.
Seethi Sahib was elected unopposed to the state
assembly. Both he and Mr. V. K. Kutty Sahib fought
for the rights of Muslims in the state. Arabic
language played a dominant role in the culture
of Kerala Muslims. There were several Kerala writers
of worldwide renown in Arabic. Several Kerela
Muslim writers have made their impact on Malayalam
literature. These works include novels, short
stories, poetry, history, and travelogues. Among
Kerala Muslim writers one name that stands out
is that of late Vaikkam Muhammed Basheer.
the absence of clear historical records, it is
believed that Apostle of Jesus, St. Thomas himself,
introduced Christianity in India in the year 52
A.D. The early Christians (St. Thomas Christians)
were called Syrian Christians because they followed
the Syriac liturgy, a dialect of Aramaic, the
language of Jesus.With the arrival of Portuguese
(1498) and the establishment of their political
influence, the Latin rite emerged as an important
factor and a large community of Latin Christianssprang
up and grew, particularly in the coastal areas.
The work of St. Francis Xavier and the synod of
Diamper (1599) played an important part in the
Latinisation of the church.
the beginning of 19th century, when the British
spread its influence in Kerala, the Church Mission
Society (CMS) of London actively associated them
in the workings of Syrian Church. After some years
of close co-operation, the missionaries broke
their connection with Syrian Bishops and church.
It was on their initiative the Anglican Church
came into existence.Some
priests of the Syrian Church under the influence
of missionaries advocated reforms, including the
replacement of Syriac by Malayalam, which was
disfavored by Bishops and Clergy of Syrian Church.
Following this the reformers formed a new church
known as Marthoma Syrian church as distinct from
the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
there are five different offshoots of Christianity
Nestorian Church confined mainly to Thrissur
Roman Catholic Church, embracing the whole
of Kerala and following three
different languages for their rites (Syriac,
Latin and Malayalam).
Jacobite Syrian Church, also known as Orthodox
Anglican Church, part of Church of South India.
from these, there are several other Christian
denominations deriving inspiration from some foreign
Church or other.
The contribution of Christian religion in the
field of education and care of the sick is innumerable.
First Malayalam dictionary and grammar by Arnos
Pathiri, first printing press, study and classification
of Herbs, Hortus Malabaricus, etc. highlight the
eminent position of Christianity in Kerala. The
Universal education propagated in Kerala along
with the churches provided the basic education
for the emancipation of the population from various
social and cultural evils. The school, colleges,
hospitals and other numerous socio-cultural institutions
run by the Christians are role models.
other Indian religions like Buddhism and Jainism
had some impact among the Malayalee Hindus, but
with the Aryan migration to the south. There was
dissemination of all these religion.
Though there is evidence of practice of Jainism
in Kerala before the arrival of Aryans. History
is silent about it. The Famous Jainmedu temple
in Palakkad is the manifestation of Jainism in
Kerala. Today few families of Jain community are
found around Palakkad in Kerala.
The traders from Middle East bought Judaism into
Kerala during 7th Century AD. Later these traders
settled in Kochi. Jew Town in Kochi, is the testimony
of the Judaism in Kerala. Today it is one of few
places in World where Jews are living in peace.
There is a Synagogue in Jew Town. Today,
Jew town is one of popular tourist location in
Kerala, where one can find many interesting antiquities
Nowhere in India, or may be in the entire world, you can witness
such tolerance and co-operation and religious
amity as seen in Kerala. Only in Kerala one can
find person's of different community come together
and celebrate each other's festival with pomp.
Onam, the traditional festival of Hindus, Christmas
and Ramzan - all these festivals are celebrated
by all the community in Kerala.
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