Cheeran Family


Family History - Written by Atkins Job Cheeran

  Dedication

 

I would like to dedicate this History of Cheeran family to my Dad, Mr. C V Job, who was an inspiration for me to accomplish this work.

History of Cheeran family

  

Cheeran family, one of the ancient Syrian Christian families, which is based at Kunnamkulam in Kerala, India. Out heritage is Syriac-Keralite, the culture is South Indian, faith is St. Thomas Christian, and our language is Malayalam. This is a prominent family in Asthagrahas.

 

The new age members of our family are settled in various parts of the world and it is spread across many states in India. There are many eminent personalities who has donated their valuable contributions to mankind in many fields like Medical Sciences, Engineering, Literature, Research, Business etc….

 Asthagrahas

 

Asthagrahas are the eight families which were first converted to Christianity by St. Thomas. These family members were residing in Kunnamkulam town and the surrounding villages i.e., Chowanoor, Choondal, Chittanjoor, Anjoor, Pazhanji, Penghamukku, Karikad.


Asthagrahas (eight families) are listed below

 

Cheeran

Pulikkottil

Cheruvathoor

Mandumpal

Kakkaserry

Cherukakkaserry

Koothoor

Porathoor

Kollanoor

 

Kunnamkulam

 

These families are basically based at Kunnamkulam. The history of these families has a direct relation to the history of Kunnamkulam and its geography.

 

On the South Western coast of India lies a small state known as Kerala It was here in the first century, Thomas the Apostle arrived to preach the gospel to the Jewish community.

 

Kunnamkulam is a city and a municipality in Thrissur district in the Indian state of Kerala. It is around 23 km from Thrissur town and 10 km from Guruvayur. The Arabians, Greeks, and Persians left their foot prints on this land years ago. The archaeologists unearthed a collection of old Roman coins which was buried around BC 123 and AD 117. These coins are exhibited at archaeological museum of Thrissur.

 

Lt. Ward was engaged in Madras Survey and this mentioned in AD 1819 report of Lt. Ward. After visiting Kunnamkulam for his survey he wrote that "Kunnamkulam is a well developed Christian town with churches and situated on a hill top. Kunnamkulam is the capital of Thalapilly taluk under Kochin Rajas. There are about 400 houses and two third of them owned by Christians. The town is protected by bamboo fence with two gates on either side. It is a very clean town and found a lot of rich people there. The town is very crowded. They manufacture every thing except clothes here. Kunnamkulam is the best market place north of Kochi. The Chaliyan or Cherlayam owned by Ayinikkal Nambidi and Kakkad owned by Kakkad Karanavar lie adjacent to Kunnamkulam. Roma Syrian Christians lived near Cherlayam. Pazhanji (Piurrunney) lies north to Kunnamkulam. Pazhanji is a center of Syrian Christians. Pazhanji is well known for Betel nuts.

 

It is believed that Saint Thomas the disciple of Jesus Christ arrived here and a Christian congregation was formed in the first century. Now majority of the population are Syrian Christians.

 Nasrani

 

The Syrian Malabar Nasrani people are an ethnoreligious group from Kerala, India. It refers to those who became Christians in the Malabar coast in the earliest days of Christianity, including the natives and the Jewish diaspora in Kerala.

 

Some of the Jews and locals including the wise men who saw Jesus as a baby at Bethlehem, became followers of Jesus of Nazareth. They were known as Malabar Nasrani people and their church as Malankara Church. They followed a unique Hebrew-Syriac Christian tradition which included several Jewish elements and Indian customs.

 

It has been suggested that the term Nasrani derives from the name Nazarenes used by ancient Jewish Christians in the Near-East who believed in the divinity of Jesus but clung to many of the Mosaic ceremonies.

 

 

They follow a unique Hebrew-Syriac Christian tradition which includes several Jewish elements although they have absorbed some Hindu customs. Much of their Jewish tradition has been forgotten, especially after the Portuguese invasion of Kerala in the early 1500s. They are popularly known as Syrian Christians in view of the Syriac (classical form of Aramaic) liturgy used in church services since the early days of Christianity in India.

 

The Nasrani people are also called Syrian-Malabar Christians, Saint Thomas Christians , Suriyani Christians or even as Syrian Christians. They are also called as Nasrani Mapillas. According to Hermann Gundert (who wrote the first Malayalam dictionary), the term 'mapilla' was a title used to denote semitic immigrants from West Asia. Thus the term Mapilla was used to denote both Arab and Christian-Jewish descendants in Kerala. The descendants of Arabs are called Muslim Mappila, while the descendants of Syrian-Jewish Christians are called Nasrani Mappilas and the descendants of the Cochin Jews who have traditionally followed Halakhic Judaism are known as Juda Mappila.

 

I still remember that local people calling my grand father (Cheeran Vareed, Perumthuruthy) as Mappila.

 

To know more about the life style of Nasrani, please visit the following link:

 

http://nasrani.net/2008/04/15/lifestyle-of-kerala-syrian-christians/

 Conversion to Christianity

 

It is claimed that the above said families have the Hindu tradition and certain other families claim the apostolic continuity of St. Thomas of the 1st Century.

 

It is said that St. Thomas came to Kodungaloor and then to Palayur. St. Thomas converted some Namboodiri families to Christianity.

 

It is believed that these Asthagrahas constitute those Namboodiri and Jewish families which were converted to Christianity by St.Thomas.

 

It is believed that Jewish people migrated to Cranganoor even before Christ and settled down in Kerala engaging trade and agriculture. Several hundred Jewish families arrived in Kerala to escape from the Roman persecution in the year A.D 72. Hence, conversion to Christianity probably might have been done from Namboodiri/Jewish society in the first century.