Page 2 - CochinBrochure

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Ketuba (wedding contract) of
Tiferet Haim Muttat and Leah Tukatum,
Chennamangalam synagogue, 1942
[Courtesy of Leah Muttat]
Cranganore was also known as Shingly. To this day, the Jews of
Chennamangalam, like the other Cochin Jews, follow the Sefardi liturgy,
but pray according to the "Shingly rite". According to the scholar P.T. Nair,
the kingdom of Shingly (a corruption of Tiruvancikulam where the Perumals
had their seat of Government in ancient Kerala) is that part of Cranganore
town which goes by the name of Kottapuram today.
The medieval geographer Ibn Battuta (1307–1377) mentions Jewish
settlement in Malabar five days journey from either Calilcut or Kawlam
(Quilon) via Kunja–Kari. He describes this place, "which is on top of a hill;
it is inhabited by Jews, who have one of their own number as their governor,
and pay a poll tax to the sultan of Kawlam."
P.M. Jussay analysed Cochin Jewish folksongs in Malayalam, and identified
Kunja–Kari with Chennamangalam, on the basis of the location of the
summit and the Jewish self–rule. As is well known, the Jews of Cochin
received copperplates from Bhaskara Ravi Varman (962–1020 C.E.) granting
them 72 privileges: the right to use a day lamp and a decorative cloth to walk
on; the privilege of blowing a trumpet and erecting a palanquin; and the right
to obtain exemption and collect particular taxes. These privileges were
bestowed upon the Cochin Jewish leader Joseph Rabban for "as long as the
world, sun and moon endure".
In the Cochin Jewish Malayalam
song, "The Song of Everayi",
Jussay traces the migration of the
Jews from Jerusalem through
Egypt, Yemen and Persia to
Palur, north of Cranganore,
according to the song, Evarayi,
the Jew, joined the local
aristocratic Nayars in a deer
hunt, which Jussay interprets as
signifying that the Jews were
accepted as members of the
In "The Song of the Bird", which recounts the transmigration of a bird to
India in search of a guava fruit, the bird flies "to a green mansion… in an
elevated spot", which Jussay identifies with the hill at Kunja–Kari in
Chennamangalam. This interpretation would tally with the conclusion
drawn by P. Anujan Achan, the Kerala State Archaeologist of Cochin, in
1930. In his discussion of the Hebrew inscription on the abovementioned
tombstone of Sara, the daughter of Israel, he concluded that the Jews must