Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kerala, The Cradle Of Christianity in South Asia

The six million Christians in Kerala, on the southwest coast of India, follow a variety of liturgical and musical traditions some of which date back to the early Christian era.

This documentary explores the historical embeddedness of these traditions that came about as a result of the region's commercial, cultural, and religious interactions with the Middle East, Europe, and America. The narrative follows the events that led to the introduction of the Chaldean, Antiochene, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other liturgies along with the musical styles associated with them.

Over the centuries, these styles have become an integral part of the musical mosaic of Kerala. A renewed attempt in the recent past to interpret Christianity in Indian terms has contributed to adaptations of semi-classical and bhajan styles of music into Christian worship.

This documentary documents excerpts from the current practice of chants in East Syriac, West Syriac, Latin, Sanskrit, English, and Malayalam. The film also showcases a unique performance context in which Hindu instrumental ensembles share space in a church festival, indicating the extent of religious harmony that exists in the region; the festival includes several ritual elements that the Portuguese missionaries introduced in the sixteenth century. Drawing attention to the lesser known aspects of the religious, musical, and linguistic complexity of the region, the film presents Kerala as a potential field for inquiries in an emerging area of scholarship on Christian music in India.

Part 1

Part 2

The history of the Syrian Orthodox Christians in Kerala

Part 1

Part 2

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