Friday, 19 June 2009

Journey of discovery: Istvan Perczel (the Syrian Christians in India.)

I read this interesting article from The Hindu, one of India's leading national daily,  on the Syrian Christians in India.

journey of discovery 


Hungarian professor Istvan Perczel’s research throws light on the Syrian Christians in India.
I found a few texts... that have liturgical practices that precede the Synod of Udayamperoor.

Chronicling the past: Istvan Perczel.

Istvan Perczel’s nearly 10-year stay and work in this antique land of ours promises to throw new light on the Syrian Christians in India. A book of poems by a 17th century priest called Kadavil Chandy Kathanar is just one of the many gems unearthed by this Hungarian professor.

Eventually he plans to write on the travails and travels of Mar Simeon, a Persian Metropolitan who came to India in 1701.

Story of a bishop

“This is the story of a bishop who came from Diyarbakir, through Jerusalem, Rome, Spain and Lisbon to India, in order to be the shepherd of his people here. But he was caught and sent back on a ship, from where he escaped and landed in Surat in Gujarat, where he was again held in confinement. Later, he managed to come to Kerala at a time when the Vatican was trying to appoint bishops in India independent of the Portuguese King. So Mar Simeon was escorted to Alangad, where he consecrated the first bishop of Verapoly. However, he was subsequently interned in Pondicherry.

“Although he was unable to cater to the spiritual needs of his people, his work was continued by another East Syrian Metropolitan called Mar Gabriel,” recounts Dr. Perczel. It was the treasure of documents in Syriac, the ancient language that used to be the language of worship of the early Christians in Kerala that brought Dr. Perczel to India.

“In fact, the indigenous Christians in Kerala are called Suriyaani Christians on account of their association with Syriac. I wanted to see if there were documents that would show some kind of intellectual discussions with Hinduism during the Middle Ages. That turned out to be a disappointment but I stumbled upon many a treasure that has made my journey worthwhile,” says Dr. Perczel.

His missionary zeal to go back in time to travel with the early Syrian Christians motivated him to become a research associate of The Oriental Institute of Tubingen University, which has funded his work. Most of the documents (on liturgical, theological, philosophical and historical matters) were found in seminaries, churches and in private collections. For instance, he found the book of poems written in Syriac by Kadavavil Chandy Kathanar and innumerable historical letters at St. Joseph’s CMI monastery at Mannanam.

“Although we knew about the existence of one poem, I stumbled upon this collection during my work in Mannanam. Chandy, who called himself Alexander the Indian, was an erudite doctor of Syriac, who was trained in Chennamangalam by the Jesuits and was also familiar with local Christian hymns and worship. In his original poetry, written in Syriac, he combines the European humanist culture learned from the Jesuits with the traditions of the Indian Syrian Church. In the Chaldean Syrian Collection in Thrissur (in the custody of Mar Aprem Metropolitan) is preserved what is perhaps the oldest copy of the most important collection of East Syrian Church law. This book has been digitised and published.

“I feel that it is the personal copy of Mar Abraham, the last Persian Metropolitan who administered the Malabar Church before the Portuguese took over.”

According to him, it is wrong to say that Indians have no sense of history. He says that priests and church administrators used to document almost everything and copies were made of even letters to various important personalities of that time.

“We can read about people, events, decisions, laws and canons. There are many Malayalam texts written in Syriac script. I can read them, but my knowledge of Malayalam is not enough to understand them. So I am reading these together with Dr. George Kurukkoor, a specialist of old Malayalam,” he explains.

According to Dr. Perczel, his study of the Syriac documents points out that the Portuguese missionaries may not have entirely succeeded in their attempt to destroy the Syriac religious writings at the Synod of Udayamperoor in 1599 AD.

Discovery of texts

“I found a few texts, forgotten or hidden, that have liturgical practices that precede the Synod of Udayamperoor. In Thrissur, for example, there is an East Syriac breviary copied in 1585, which shows liturgical practices that were already not in use in the Persian Church,” muses the scholar.

In addition to finding the missing pieces in a historical jigsaw puzzle that covers centuries and continents, Dr. Perczel has also been digitalising the documents that are spread over Kerala in places like Thrissur, Pampakuda, Ernakulam, Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram. The digitised documents are being archived and preserved at Hill Museum and Manuscripts Library in Minnesota, in the United States.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

How to Filet a Fish Like a Pro: youtube teaches everything....

If you ever wanted to learn how to slice onion or fish...
go to youtube..its e-learing....hahhah

Letter from Jerusalem by Daniel Estrin

i read this interesting article on poets and novlists replacing journalist for a day in a National daily.
Can you ever imagine what will happen in the newsroom and on the on..

 Literary Lesson: Authors, Poets Write the News
Letter from Jerusalem
By Daniel Estrin

It was on an average Wednesday that a very serious Israeli newspaper conducted a very wild experiment. For one day, Haaretz editor-in-chief Dov Alfon sent most of his staff reporters home and sent 31 of Israel’s finest authors and poets to cover the day’s news.

his wasn’t a Sabbath supplement, a chance to balance the news with extra color. This was a near complete replacement of the newspaper itself. Save for the sports section and a few other articles, all the reporters’ notebooks were handed over to poets and novelists, both bestselling and up-and-coming. Their articles filled the pages, from the leading headline to the weather report.

“We really tried to give a real newspaper,” Alon said.

For the liberal, Hebrew language Israeli daily — the country’s oldest — it was a bold but signature move. From its founding in 1918, Haaretz has distinguished its brand by highlighting Israeli cultural, literary and artistic life with a vigor unmatched by its competitors. That, along with its dense in-depth political and business reporting (achieved with smaller type and far fewer photos than Israel’s other dailies) has won it an elite audience, albeit one far smaller than its competitors. Its weekday circulation of some 50,000 compares with 400,000 for Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s largest daily, and 160,000 for Ma’ariv, the second largest.

But as the old cliché goes, they are the right readers. “The likelihood of Haaretz readership,” Israeli media analysts Dan Caspi and Yehiel Limor write, “rises with income, education, and age.” Its elite audience gives it an influence disproportionate to its circulation, as does its internationally read English language Internet edition, which features translations of many of the Hebrew stories. Its readership, along with the paper’s dovish political stances, has won it a reputation as Israel’s version of The New York Times.

It’s hard to imagine the Times doing anything like the June 10 experiment, though. For this edition of the paper, nearly all the rules taught in journalism school were thrown out the window. Writers used the first person and showed up in nearly every photograph alongside their interview subjects, including the likes of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres.

Among those articles were gems like the stock market summary, by author Avri Herling. It went like this: “Everything’s okay. Everything’s like usual. Yesterday trading ended. Everything’s okay. The economists went to their homes, the laundry is drying on the lines, dinners are waiting in place… Dow Jones traded steadily and closed with 8,761 points, Nasdaq added 0.9% to a level of 1,860 points…. The guy from the shakshuka [an Israeli egg-and-tomato dish] shop raised his prices again….” The TV review by Eshkol Nevo opened with these words: “I didn’t watch TV yesterday.” And the weather report was a poem by Roni Somek, titled “Summer Sonnet.” (“Summer is the pencil/that is least sharp/in the seasons’ pencil case.”) News junkies might call this a postmodern farce, but considering that the stock market won’t be soaring anytime soon, and that “hot” is really the only weather forecast there is during Israeli summers, who’s to say these articles aren’t factual?

Alongside these cute reports were gripping journalistic accounts. David Grossman, one of Israel’s most famed novelists, spent a night at a children’s drug rehabilitation center in Jerusalem and wrote a cover page story about the tender exchanges between the patients, ending the article in the style of a celebrated author who’s treated like a prophet: “I lay in bed and thought wondrously how, amid the alienation and indifference of the harsh Israeli reality, such islands — stubborn little bubbles of care, tenderness and humanity — still exist.” Grossman’s pen transformed a run-of-the-mill feature into something epic.

So, too, did 79-year-old author Yoram Kaniuk, whose novel “Adam Resurrected” was recently adapted for a movie starring Jeff Goldblum and Ayelet Zurer. He went into the field to write about couples in the hospital cancer ward. The thing is, he’s a cancer patient, too. “A woman walking with a cane brings her partner a cup of coffee with a trembling hand. The looks they exchange are sexier than any performance by Madonna and cost a good deal less,” Kaniuk wrote. “I think about what would happen if I were to get better…how I would live without the human delicacy to which I am witness?”

“I got more telephone calls today than I have in years past,” Kaniuk said in a phone interview. “People were very moved, because I wrote it like a writer and not like a journalist. If you see something beautiful and touching, why not write it?” The masterful articles by Kaniuk and Grossman made it seem like there’s actually some hope to be reported in a country flooded with doomsday news bulletins.

The next day, Haaretz’s usual staff reporters were back on the job. Yossi Melman, Haaretz’s commentator on security and intelligence issues, emphasized that he liked the experiment, but said, “It would be very difficult to replace journalists with authors and run a newspaper. We are trained; we know how to do it. For them, you know, there is a tendency to elaborate.”

At the editor’s desk, Alfon sees things otherwise. “I think it is a humility lesson for journalists,” he said. He kept five writers in the newsroom in case of breaking news, but nothing big happened. So the authors’ accounts prevailed, gripping stories were printed and dozens of readers called in with praise.

“Thirty-one writers decided, what are the real events of the day?” he mused. “What is really important in their eyes? They wrote about it, and our priorities as journalists were suddenly shaken by this.”

Contact Daniel Estrin at 

can you