STHE SONGS OF THE JEWS OF COCHIN
THEIR HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
A. I. SIMON.
TO INDIAN TOLERATION
(The "Paradesi" Synagogue and the Palace
Temple, next to each other.)
Price 2 sh or Re I as 8.
PANOAL PRESS, COCWIN.
THE SONGS OF THE JEWS OF COCHIN
THEIR HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
PAPER READ AT THE RECEPTION GIVEN TO THE
MEMBERS OF THE COCHIN BR. OF THE
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF S. INDIA,
AT THE AUTHOR'S RESIDENCE AT
MATTANCHERI ON JULY 28, 1946.
Dedicated to the memory of
my first & best teacher.
(See page 15)
An Extract from a recent (Spring 1947) 'Letter'
by an ex-serviceman ( Herbert Eisner ) under the
caption "OUT OF THIS WORLD", in the Menorah
Journal a magazine published in New York and the
world's leading Jewish periodical-dealing with Jewish
history and thought and the facts of Jewish Life in
the contenxorary world:-
"There, in Cochin, lives a colony of just over a
hundred Jews. Though interesting,'it would not war-
rant writing about in the Menorah Journal but for the
fact that the 'White Jews of Cochin'-as they call
themselves-are the happiest community I have, ever
known. That makes them very important people-
now a days.
When one has discovered a Good thing one
endeavours to delve in:o its secrets, and in the man-
ner of cookery books, produce recipes which others
too might enjoy."
x -, x x x x
x x x x
They burst into soag at the smallest provocation.
This spontaneous display of their feelings is one of
their most charming points. I shall always remember
crossing the port of Cochin by ferry one early morning
at six o'clock, about one hour before sunrise. The day
before an excursion had been decided on; and after a
long discussion (it always takes enormous discussions
to decide anything in Cochin-time is no object) the
unearthly hoar of 5 A. M. was fixed as time for'reveille
in .order to avoid the mid-day sun. I was still rubbing
the sleep from my eyes as the ferry-boat chugged ac-
ross the sparsely illuminated harbour entrance when
my 'Jew-Town' companions lustily broke into a Hindu
lullaby. No one could have failed to be impressed -
THE SONGS OF THE JEWS OF COCHIN AND
THEIR HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE.
To understand fully the importance and the
historical significance of the songs of the Jews of
Cochin, it is essential to remember certain broad and
fundamental facts connected with the relationship
between the Land of Israel and South India; the pro-
bable date of the advent to Malabar of the Paradesi'or
so-called White* Jews of Cochin, and their subsequent
colonisation of Cranganore and Cochin; the inter-
mediary functions carried on by Jewish travellers
between the West and the East; the cultural contri-
bution of the Jew to Spain and Portugal ; and the
progressive history of the community in South India.
2. The chronological history of the community
covers broadly a period of about 3000 years- from the
time of the First Patriarch and his contact with sea-
faring Phoenicians to this day. Whether it be the
Synagogue calendar', the songs2 they sing or their
social or every day life, this fact is recorded, demon-
strated and never forgotten.
*The so-called White and Black Jews will throughout this
paper, be termed as the "Paradesi" or "Original" Jews and
the "Malabar" Jews respectively, as done by Paiva, Castro
& Barros. The words "White" and "Black" will not be used
to represent them, as they are both un-Jewish.and un-Indian.
1. Eben Saphir p. 57. 2. Standard Books of songs-
Hebrew and Malayalam'
2. Their every day re-capitulation of the com-
position of the incense used in the Temple in the land
of Isral (Palestine) and the enumeration of the eleven
kinds of spices; entering into this composition, bring
to their minds the close association of their mother
country (Palestine) with their adopted mother-land
(South India). The mere mention of cloves,4 cassia,
cinnamon, sweet calamus or lemon-grass oil, karkom
or "kunguma Poo",spikenard or 'jatamansi' or 'balchur'
as the Hindus call it in Northern India,- all these
make the Jew in Malabar feel quite at home in his
adopted motherland. No wonder he accepts Cochin as
a small Jerusalem. The solemn service on the Day
of Atonement, the most important day of their calen-
dar, with the reading of the impressive part taken by
the High Priest (Cohen Gadol) in the service of the
day, reminds them of the robes of South Indian
linen5 and gold cloth (from Hyderabad and Benares?)
worn by the priest at the temple during this great day.
3. The close association of Events in Malabar
.with those elsewhere in the Jewish world, and the
3. Talmud Treatise "Keriloth", fol: 6.
4. See mendelsohn's Commentary on Exod. XXX 34-Of
the eleven ingredients in the incense,, cloves, Cassia, spikenard
saffron, Cassia lignea, and cinnamon came from India.
5.(a) Talmud Tract. "Yomah", p. 47.
(b) From the accounts of classical writers and Chinese
travellers and annalists we have further confirmation of this
point. "The ports oh the West Coast of India furnished", among
other things muslinss' to the Roman ships; and Coromanjli
Coast supplied cotton stuffs. Pan young (nephew of the histo-
rian Pan Kou), in 125 C. E., states that in India "there are
also fine fabrics &c."
repercussion on this community of every 'it-semi-
tic movement in other parts of the world must also be
remembered. Here is a community that, extensively
traded with the East and the West, received its Jewish
settlers from Palestine, Asia Minor, Middle East,
Spain, Holland and Central Europe, and sent their off-
shoots to China, Strait Settlements and various parts
of India and Burma. No Wonder it acquired a global
4. The Paradesi Jews were well established as a
colony in Cranganore, at least by the end of the 5th or
the beginning of the 6th centuryof the C.hristian Era:
and the Jews that colonised Cranganore at the time
were those who were completely familiar with condi-
tions prevailing in the Land of Israel, at the time of
the Roman invasion and the loss of national inde-
pendance, or who were the descendants of such persons
and were therefore well versed in their T e m p e
5. The extensive use of the Ararmiq language
(Targum)- a language most closely related to Hebrew
and in common use in Palestine at the time of the
second Temple5- by the Paradesi Jews is significant.
Aramaic was undoubtedly the spoken language in
Cranganore in the early centuries, and much of its
use in service books remains to this day.
6. Though the main influx of Spanish Jews came
to Malabar after the expulsion of Jews from Spain6
5. Book of Ezra IV 8 to VI 18; Book of Daniel Jewish
Encyci: Vol. I p. 67.
6. Noticias Judeos de Cochin" by Mosseh de Pereira
(1492 C. E.,) and they were officially there in 1511
C. E. or 54 years before the final expulsion of of Jews
from Cranganore, individual $.il (Castillian) Jews
were in Craganore long before that date. Paiva7 in
1686, saw in Cochin Spanish Jews whose great-great-
grand fathers had come from Spain (to Cranganore).
The influence of this great influx of Spanish Jews was
such that, in 1584, Van Linschoten7 found perfect
Spanish to be the spoken language of the Paradesi
Jews. Even a devotional song, sung by them is in
Spanish, but written in Hebrew characters.
7. Several Jewish Literary Celebrities have been
to Malabar while the Jews were in Cranganore, most
of them having come from Spain, the then seat of
culture-thanks to the services rendered by Jews to
th$eepnd Amongst these were certainly two or
three Poets or Singers as they were called, namely
R. Judah Halevi (the Levite: The Jewish Shake-
speare) Rabbenu Nissim and Abraham ibn Ezra.
Paivae makes mention of this fact The association
of these famous Jews with Malabar is immortalised by
songs and hymns composed-by them for the Jews of
Cochin and exclusively used by the Jews of Cochin.
8. My article on 'Language a clue to History'
published in the Bulletinc Vol. X Part I, clearly
illustrates the composition of the "Malabar Yiddish",
if I may so term it, used by most of the Paradesi
Jews as their spoken language and containing many
7. The Intinerario of J. H. Van Linschotten, 1596.
8, "Noticias Judeos de Cochin" by Mosseh de Pereira
foreign words. This point comes into consideration
when we refer, later, in this paper, to the language
used in composing the so-called Malayalam songs.
9. It must be remembered that music is a parti-
cularly faithful index of assimilation; and so, Jewish
religions and folk music have, on the whole, reflected
with the utmost fidelity, the atmosphere of their
Environment. Thus the music of the modern Euro-
pean Jew, the Bagdadian Jew and the Paradesi in
Cochin satisfies this great principle in the art of
music. Again, Jewish musical talents find their outlet
only in Lands of greater freedom and toleration.
10. Every historical event in the life history of
the Jews, finds an expression in songs, rendered in
Hebrew or the Vernacular of the country of their
11. Of the eight synagogues now in existence in
Cochin State (old boundaries) all were constructed
in the 16th or 17th century--that is, after the final
dispersion from Cranganore in the 16th century. Most
of these synagogues were built by "Mudaliars" or
other leaders of the Paradesi community.
12. Tradition has played a notable part in Jewish
music. The most important melodies of the Syna-
gogues and even many secular songs are derived
ultimately from Biblical chants. These in turn ante-
date the dispersion, since (with many variations)
they are substantially the same in all Jewish Com-
munities throughout the world.
The above-stated broad facts in the history
of this community form the basis from which the
subject of this paper could be constructed. While
the Bible reveals hardly a trace of the songs of the
ancient Jews, it supplies: numerous references or
allusions which furnish evidence of this existence.
In the Biblical period music was freely employed on
occasions of rejoicing and sorrow. Special mention
is made of the song that was sung by Moses and the
children of Israel after the crossing of the Red Sea9
(1492 B. C.), the Song of Deborah and Barakh (12th
century B. C.)10 the Song of Songs ascribed to King
Solomon (9th century B. C.)'' and others.
From these few examples, it can be seen that
singing was an indispensable element in the life of
.the people of Bible days. During the Talmudic
period,12 there were similar references; for example,
9' Exodus, xv. I to 18.
10. Judges, V to 31.- This ode. considered the oldest
extant piece of Hebrew literature, celebrates the first victory
of the Israelites over the Canaanites.
11. One of the lyrics that comprise the Song of Songs II-
"My beloved is mine. and I am his;.
He feedeth the flock among the lilies,
Until the evening breeze blows,
And the shadows disappear,
Turn away, my beloved!
Be thou as a young stag,
Upon the cleft-riven hills."
12. The importance of singing, even during services, in the
Talmudic period, may be gathered from examples & commne.
taries given in the Talmud. The commentaryg'Deut.XXVIll 47
"Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness,
and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things:" is
indeed interesting A question is asked: What is that service
which is conducted with"joyfulness and with gladness of heart"?
The answer is that it is "Service with songs (Shira"). Talmud
.Erchin p. 11.
Sabbath was welcomed by appropriate song, '3 and
wedding guests were entertained by special singers.
After the destruction of the temple, attempts. were
made to curtail secular singing, because of the
national tragedy, but the people continued to vent
their emotion in songs.
There is an important fact to be noted that
the development of folk songs were marked in peaceful
regions-I mean, regions or countries, where there
was complete toleration. Is it then a wonder that in
Malabar-God's own chosen peaceful land, with a
spirit of toleration unparalleled in the history of the
world, and gloriously depicted, and made history of,
at the recent San Francisco Conference of the nations
of the world by Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar, the Indian
representative, in the very first sentence of his noted
speech there-yes, in Malabar, it developed to a very
high degree in ancient days, compared with even
A new form of Jewish self-expression arose in
the middle age, namely, devotional poems or "Piyyu-
13. The song(devotional),"Come my'beloved!" by Solomon
'Come my beloved, to meet the bride
Now welcome we the Sabhath-tide,
O Sacred city, royal shrine,
Arise from out these ruins thine,
0 Wake thee, wake thee people mine!
Thy light is come arise and shine
Awake and sing, for all can see.
The glory of the Lord in thee,"
thim". These poems written by R. Judah Halevi
and others were eagerly accepted by the laymen and
incorporated into the Liturgy of the Synagogue,
where they were intuned to'various chants. Some of
these were sung outside the Synagogue,-at the Sab-
bath table, Passover Home service ('seder') etc.
The knowledge and use of musical notation
being unknown at that age, we have no way of telling
what melodies were employed for these poems or
whether the melodies current today are of ancient
orgin or of more recent years.
It may however, be noted that after the ex-
pulsion of the Jews from Spain, the Sephardic or
Spanish Jews brought along with them the Castilian
Dialect ( Ladhino or. Latino ) and literature
which included many folk songs. This would explain
the very large number of melodies- over 500-in use
amongst the Paradesi Jews of Cochin, and many songs
in Hebrew and the Vernacular, 'unknown to the other
Jewish communities of the would.
Taking the word "Song" to. mean a union of
poetry and music, .the songs in common use amongst
the Jews in Cochin may be classified into those writ-
ten in (A) Hebrew and (B) Malayalam, the melody to
which they are set being sometimes the same.
(A) HEBREW:- There are poetical pieces in
the prescribed Liturgy especially on important occa-
sions such as the New Year and the Day of Atonment .
and these are sung or uttered with musical modulations;
Apart" from these there are devotional poems or
"Piyyutim" incorporated, as I have already stated, into
the Liturgy of the Synagogue where they are intuned
to various chants. Jewish communities all over the
world have a collection of such poems or songs, some
of which are common amongst all or most of them.
Here I have before me two books of these devotional
songs in Hebrew,- one in use amongst the Jews in
the middle East, Far East, and India other than
Cochin, and the others exclusively used by the Cochin
Jews. 'The latter, the standard books of songs",
used only by the Jews of Cochin contain many poems
or songs used on special occasions, i unknown to
and never used by any other Jewish community in the
world; and are the compositions of local and foreign
Jewish celebrities in Cochin. These songs or
poems or recitations number about a couple of a hundred
of which about 30 are clearly historical and composed
and sung at Cranganore'4 and Cochin. And the
manuscript Book I have before me is dated 5410 or
1650 and was in use about 100 ryers before the same
appeared in print.
A careful scrutinisation of these songs or poems
will reveal the standard of Literature at Various
periods in the history of the Jews in Malabar, and the
composers ol the time. Those songs or recitations
composed in Aramaic, partly or wholly are undoub-
tedly the earliest compositions produced in Crangan-
ore, for reasons already alluded to. Of the others,
some are written in classical Hebrew by writers whose
names adorn world Jewish history, and others
are composed by purely local talents. Of the
world famous Jewish writers R. Judah Halevi'5
14. Letter of Ezekiel Raabi to Tobias Boas at Prague,
(answer to.Q ii.)
15. BarninSoutnern Castile (To,61* 1086-1141 C. E.
Sta~ide out prominently. The poems or songs
under his name, and used by the Jews of Cochin
are about ten in number and include one particular song
,'(YASHRU BEHENAI)" which like others is sung
in "Cranganore or Shingly Tune" and composed by
R. Judah in Cranganore. This famous song is con-
sidered traditionally so important by the community
that no Reader is certified as such if he does not know
the tune of this song.
Here a diversion may be permitted to point out
that two of the greatest modern Jewish historians-
sratMand u d Roth-both state that the year of
the death of this great Jewish poet (R. Judah) and
the site of his grave are both unknown. According to
Paiva, the famous learned men ("Hachamin") the
Jews had in Cranganur included both R. Judah Haleva
and his father R. Samuel Halevi; and Paiva clearly
states that at a place near Cranganore, the tomb of R.
Samuel Halevi could be seen at the time he visited
Cochin (1686 C. E.). He adds that R. Judah and his
father brought with them from Majorica\ (Spain)
two gold tgfiPpe belonging to the sacred temple and
gives full details about these trumpets. Sike and
other writers confirm this statement of Paiva. It must
also be noted that the two Volumes of poems by R.
Judah (WarsawfE-djjf 1893) do not contain his
composition exclusively used in Cochin except one
to which the Editor (Dr. Abraham Eliavoo Arachbi)
makes special reference as having been copied from
"'mahzor Shingli." (Prayer Book of Cranganore.)
Again, the special service in,the afternoon
of the last day of the Feast of ?tai ("Simha
Torah") contain a song by R. Judah. This service
and this song are the exclusive characteristics of
the Jews of Cochin.
It may be stated that Rabbenu Nissim, (1320-
1380)-a great scholar and Robbinical authority-
has one or two poems in his name, exclusively used
by the Jews of Cochin-namely the song "Nomar
Shira", and another. This however, namely "Nomar
Shira" is so important that its last verse summarises
the entire history of the community in Cranganore.
or Shin'gly. Its translation will read as follows:-
"I travelled from Spain and heard of the coun-
try of Shingly (Cranganore); I desired to see an Israe-
lite King, and him I saw (there) with my own eyes".
,This verse clearly indicates that Nissim was.
in Shingly and he saw the Jewish Chief there with
his own eyes. It is disappointing to see some recent
writers playing on this verse, without a knowledge
of Hebrew. One translated the Hebrew expression
"Melech Israel Thahabthi" as meaning "I wanted
to see a King of the Jews", and promptly declared it
to be applied to the Rajah of Cochin; whereas the
expression in Hebrew means that he desired to see
an Israelite or Jewish King. Otherwise where is
the sense in it? All Jewish communities were under
different kings; but no Jewish Chiefs. On the other
hand in Shingly alone-the first Jewish state after
dispersion as Kloetzel so well puts it-there was a
Jewish Chief whose glory is to this day recognized.
Again, where does Joseph Rabban, the President of
the Jewish Sanhedrim or Parliament in Cranganore,
come in, if any other explanation is given? Now,
you can understand why I, belonging to a practical
profession, should be a narrator of history. The
childish mistakes made by some writers to prove
their own theories, without any semblance of his-
torical honesty, made me give up my profession and
take to seriously this duty of notifying these errors
and correcting them.
(B) Coming to the Malayalam songs, and
their origin, it is necessary to realize first that Jewish
women, in the days of the Bible, though subject to
the same punishments for the infringements of the
laws laid down in the Bible, were exempted from
those religious obligations of which a definite time is
given, such as the study of the law. As a rule,
therefore, women never studied (Torah) Bible as
academically as men; but, by constant practice, they
became familiar with the main body of everyday
laws. During the middle ages, a special literature
arose, for the spiritual benefit of women, in the
Vernacular (Yiddish), in certain parts of Europe.
In accordance with the above stated facts and
traditions, the women amongst the Paradesi Jews
were not in the olden days, both in Cranganore and
Cochin, given any academical education in its
modern and wider sense. However an indirect system
of giving them some superficial idea of their religion
and history were given with the help of a set of
songs -in Malayalam, which I term the 'ancient songs'
on various subjects, and different tunes set to these
The language of the songs (Malayalam) may be
divided into three periods, in the same way as the
growth of Malayalam literature is, namely the early,
middle, and modern Malayalam- greatly 'molifii by
the corrupt forms of Malayalam words used by the Para-
desi Jews. Some have even the copper plate language,
and some recent folk songs absolutely modern in
composition and style. As regards the subject matter of
these songs, it consists of a representative collection,
ranging from ordinary folk-songs to those narrating
well known events in history. They number about
110, and may, with reference to the subject matter,
conveniently be divided into:-Biblical texts or
themes, 37; Hymns written in Malayalam, 10; Trans-
lations of Hebrew Hymns, 7; Historical songs includ-
ing those regarding the'Synagogues', 10; Miscellaneous,
including epilogues and folk songs, 47.
These songs were sung on special occasions
such as wedding, circumcision, &c. by both classes
of Jews-the Paradesis and the "Malabar" Jews. A
reference to the Book of special services and songs,
called in Hebrew "Huppath Hathaneem" or "mahzor
Shingli" will clearly show that: (1) most of these
songs or all of them were composed while in Crang-
anur and were in use there; (2), the words "Vehanas-
him meshor-rim Kemanhagam" (meaning, "and the
Women sing according to their custom"), in the
wedding section of the book, tell us that the singing
of these songs by women is a shingly custom; (3)
"Nomar Shira" ( Let us sing ), the poem of
Rabhenu Nissim, above referred to, is in it, and
proclaims the visit of the composer to Cranganur in
the XIV century and his seeing there the Jewish chief
or Israelite king. "yashru Behenai'"-the Poen by
R. Judah-included in the "wedding" section of this.
book-was certainly composed in Cranganore. and as
Dr. Arachbi calls it, is a Shingly song.
Here it may be stated that, "mahzor shingly"
or the Book of special Services & songs has gone
through four editions of .which the first one was
got printed at Amsterdam in 1757 (5517), through
the agency of Tobias Boas, by Ezekiel Rahbi, the
chief-merchant of the Dutch at the time and exclusive-
ly for the "Holy congregation of Shingly" or Paradesi
Jews. The second Edition apperaed in 1769 (5529)
and was under the patronage of Ezekiel Rahbi, as
could be seen from the preface to the book. The latter
edition differed from the former in that (1) the
title page is differently worded; (2) the rites of
circumcision of proselytes & slaves were omitted from
it; & (3) there are Several piyyuthim numbering
.about 40-which find place therein for the first time &
.evidently composed by Nehemia ben Abraham and
Some of these bear his name & others, including a
few, in, Alphabetical order, appear to be in his
*style & in all probability, his composition. The
critic of this book (the second edition), Joseph
David Ma'asar, in his conducing remarks, describes
these songs & hymns (by Nehemia) as "containing
,many errors in words, vowels, grammar and
languagee". These errors. were corrected by the critic
Let me now go back to the Malayalam songs.
Most of these songs are sung during the wedding
celebrations,'6, which, in Cranganore and early in
Cochin were of 15 days' duration, later reduced to
eight days, and now to one day. It stands to reason
that practically. very few of these standard songs are
sung or could be sung during one evening's celebra-
tion of the wedding, spent mostly in eating, drinking,
16. For details see Eben Saphir. (Dd. Labours. 1866)
dancing and entertaining friends. Gradually all these
songs have fallen out of use, and the present genera-
tion of Jewesses knows practically nothing of it. The
customs pertaining to the modern pseudo-civilsation
have completely eclipsed the glory of these songs.
As I have already stated, when wedding cele-
brations were narrowed down to 8 days (Saturday to
Saturday), the first sabbath had its characteristic
celebration. The actual wedding ceremony took placg
on sunday evening, after sunset (Monday, according
to Jewish calculations); but on Tuesday evening and
Wednesday morning (or Wednesday only according
Jewish calculation), said to be the "Polichu Paduna"
Day the day of Homage and singing the main
characteristic of the celebration is the singing of
songs, the four historic ones amongst them, bi
women, sitting in a line on Either side of the bride
and bridegroom (on the stage), representing the latter
as the "King and queen," especially the bridegroom
who is represented as the descendant of "Chirianand-
han" or Prince Joseph Rabban. It is to my mind, a
day of "National glorification", compared with which
even the actual wedding day pales into insigni-
I have actually seen and heard my own mother-
a great authority on these songs and one of the few
cultured women of the town at the time pointing out
her finger to the bridegroom and remarking "Here is
our Chirianandhan". One should be born in this
community and be throughly familiar with their
historical, religious and other aspects of their life in
Malabar, particularly in comparison with the circum-
stances in which their sister communities live else-
where in the world, and take part in these celebra-
tions. Yes, such a one only could get the thrill of
the dignity and honour bestowed i n the past, on his
community, and the full significance of the the spirit
of toleration so characteristic of Malabar and its great
people. This historical day, it may be added here, is
celebrated by only the Paradesi Jews.
In classifying these songs, I referred to the ten
historical songs, four of which make reference to the
past in Cranganur and six composed in honour of the
building of the synagogues in Cochin, including the
Paradesi, Kadavumbhagam and Theckumbagam
synagogues in Cochin and the, Synagogues at Parur
and Tirthoor, and equally important to history as
the other four.
Here are the four historic* songs sung.on the
occasion referred to:-
Song No. 1. describes Joseph Rabban; No. 2.
details the privileges conferred on him and enumera-
ted in the copper plates; No. 3. describes the pro-
cession of the Chief to the palace of Cheraman
Perumal to receive the grant of the copper plates and
thence to the synagogue for the thanksgiving service;
and No. 4. alludes to the historical arrival of the early
colonists by sea at Paloor and other places.
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3. 1 omo322es TnOoMl7Of6,casccGMs
6)6)a,%)Laigda6a' nJrXA.i6)Q3io mCnj3(
1. -JIjl-n luaidO4sMA, 2. nru-la%1s.l orestablished,
3. oe90ooil or fame, 4. 6).ugpr9mt oro, 5. aie il,
6. Mahodra Patnam or Cranganore, 7. 0ac~aocsgem, ,
8. ('eCmomn, 9. a&), 10. (onowo, 11. maOqQeaJ6Ms)o-6nn,
12. 2sgj (continuous) cIaoaso, 13. mcn, 14. asn6eod,
15. mnolriloi.acmm, 16. crrvomoemoo, 17. *stoja gawimo
mlarownajA, 18. (nowll. accomplish 19. am canosooe
*s9ses aoMmlRog mlajac (wlcnasomnC, 20. av6m=ela oca mi
asg or njocm4, 21. (rnfl~ jeuaco r vuowmmnoBo, 22. crmoomn
%a6s mcla, 23. (mozaofodBa, 24. aanaiDo 6owleilsseacm.
joCImalO z6aWS eroq7aaSna-1r
uorG)o Q6lao8m) cncafrd"osedo
ogmo laelcr anruoc naoocn
acflJOruad0osom n0Rogeo3 0(mcn36a.
4. (nosoonD x7o coas7B' ,o)T "
.j1.s03o c9a,6)(D6 3 01o0n32 o3oaq
ijDjaaf6)MMtt'33 61_Wpjocll n3_ WirifOj(D'lMMcyolOo3
6QJrll6C&0 6qs6as" 6)f"Oa6)CSj3e6s 7 )"n
MaJo4snm 4" alo srwoecoalplm
,)2rCTUn o35. n-O1 3 aiQ o s7 ,,I.
5. moom7no7 3,ilmal
Iromrogo3e 0 m aoqrr)1m(YlToo
6r-13o0,3.(j gQSoM(576)C,)0'41 (1.C~fiOS 2
6. naxoodmaAl aruoslaeadiposn^'13
25. cbm )oradNia or -asiioesago, 26. anoeo nJ3efocaao?
27. maj6agj3o, 28. a1 gCagknma, 29. cooNaofln, 30. coo,
anmao, 31. socol, 32. jeasomd, 33. oaooslai3lBs, 34. njio
37. (aolaatml, 38. %jgjaoemeacmsasi carueaiocamalcaj
GraDoo, 39. Ajggefl, 40. asaa3leasicai3, 41. cQ=rssoMa@e
-i"lCsnmoao, 42. socol, 43. agj cs:a jelajos7o~j7Ol.
,oAes, 44. eoo7msari7 g,
6>3O r145a 3moiTo46a XiJioibco Qflela6)cn481
I lOOC)o" s6cMjllo*col'5 6)MajO6to' bl64
oqeOocn; o7o o a6doxrracs.
7. 6o)&0 _51~6aaMl55 6)er asIlS0g)Sa96),m036Mn
ed7 7onslassy s, 7 ,.tos 52
5 jn. ,os=, i56,,j56. aCW3&n57 57lf. a ool5 ,5.78
67,5om3c.edae59 60. co 6>s eoWnC&alor9 n,7a ,7la
'MOO,.) 61.,-,OOJ, 62."0), a,,)
OcOooo oaeiA, o fts(QIoJOfl6ra
sooeaurao"os6m ajoiopolommio .
6A(3S)CnBea65 6A S olQ6)%3 66
mclei'oj067 moo ao maio
)smcfLuuw %f a- aase 9u seocogo
gaem36ctunO"3co 0 -130 o(3m36s.
45. .0joceo6m, 46. cwul, 47. mnjoGeo, 48. awl1o, 49. oio
alsalas" mnoea, 50. sanlaif,6)9s, 51. aB6mao, 52. a
coooo or maomnn-o, 53. ofwlo, 54. (QJg)cdabo 4.&oG9aOls6nV,
55. 6)os'lOrwemagk, 56. comasoc, 57. g)e3C)crunma,, 58. i.alT
01, 59. mao! mo3adl, 60. a6aomjae:l4ad mu3oselaIBN msasacfn
(coosu.aJeJ), 61. .juoOl, 62. eocn~coa3l, 63. Woo (9aocnwao),
64. owvaocva', 65. eocol, 66. ,co7lm.-mjoadooq, 67. tal
.ncBaw39acnBm-6omodBmo, 68. camo2oCI moWsmmojcps,
aomcaA, 69. aolsacwabc e(oiane oMAjoq e-ai.
9. meLJoa3s1 el eB mCTanG6omo70
mas cnmga~cA ma dRdhamagoxLS7jo
6)C)o oJoffi!fO 6o72Mcv a)73 ,sBapeo
nggmm'(bndrQo74, bcLodhM 75Ma-el OCTIQ)^
Qcao arnnco oom ojojoo mo6moMa.
10. rej(mUo76 jmjcnajo77 jo!(n-O3oA.tMo)m
COOJ3oS @6)2ijO (L3 i0ClJalc&OO 636)(OiBSo078
oSQoauols lcrrn ecT3oBuamroo7
,c1.Q 2lga> 6>.n'c0 2J(lOTfnj
63Jc: o 7 c f o .
1 e3ct lroc91 2flltE Q(a c CO)
amo6eo>2~o, 77. -jlfo6as (momom) 606,nqr 78. weocims
amonaoo, 79. 6o6~acmmGcW, 80. oe36oo 0,amo-sl.
1. aOl7, or ,eSooNl, 2. m8)OlaaOtlahsM, 3. em)gjOo
oeo mracS, oe.l ammomc (jac, 4. 6m6O),&g9Dvo anI)
cto(OcwaacA, 5. mrsomQoma, 6. %lh(1o, 7. cl3ei6cio oalo
Pa0o cfbl(01-3=i6mb)Cao anosqayo, 8. moam.m30malI36oav.
moanra lgmcn Oa7mlo0a1 r I scl~nCmlA'2 (MlejIo&mSCn 3
2. molemmoilaIo (~osnslJS'5 canoa'l mI nmo moo0alM16
soQa 17 QsUe)s IIGMoToTI170caAoIiS 6jasj6b)ioaM)i(oI6_lm63q
al61onu3m~o'418 o0CioC aQjasara (C33((aon
cmaiQ iraoo1 eSncaroMsc lo acl3DncrWmcnaM coydomjocnb.
ca6'a>le dsftymslroio'l ^efnscms .nrlciD7fncmor alem ( omota
a.sI3Md e@a5 alo1aG7S7dgoS'9 .n7 o QOCI4 aC.JalCan..
gma7o.(20 qb -sepj3 63 oma21 mearoaoo naMscl a
m o22 al3ICro, 14. 3600, 15. olm oi ; n ma, 16. maljo
_aQOq3lebMqOflio d9gl6>CQ3 6)MalmoJ6)6J)l
18. Joseph Rabban's title, 19. o 20. ,c,
GQQWI caQ)crff 66 60igMJ10C.
4. mo2o mCOM mQo 3 e6~a mL 24. ss
verts), 25. ro~9'e; ~ osmso6m,.
ejai (eaospailemo -Aclo';iComcaroCT? Nge)m.
5. 261-rL.aoamtisQs61>a 5.13raC;1o6Q16naJ (3 msim
6)emntles 76aa lfleai)j amgi (t cocnmsmo
iMaiosl03(B24 6_a t) 6) co&, 0 M 125 % -9rm ( cnlqD(D);
a6ag36i~esoaonr meo.-anw .jxt
aMs@6),Z ao ();,( nno aMs3rr dMaeg AiO6I6)(MK.
9. alasen1Jsli, 10. MoCno, 11. ml(crodl, 12. cmosro, 13. aiamr
mnaueo @saensmo, 14. 3600, 15. 6).JMICo lajab; WoNOCs 16. on
18. Joseph Rabban's title, 19. mipcedleA, 20. mamsjqm,
21. ianl(A, 22. (gad, 23. seaommna4 24. ansamcoo (con-
verts), 25. 8NewaisCmA; esnomA,
6. eamea op3ao26 QJllo (CDImo .aJ1(lOO)amOahC!
.,ua'l ,oa < o ,(, !
jo~O6>1lC no soylaonngo soe3lo oiao .ol3mls
joo-e0Qas33 p ~McoV omN34 .ocJO .M n 6)Sa C
n4CQagj)1 aa a a 1(OaTooaoDciai!
7. msr6ma, B27 ,,Ll a8.,'ld6n~3CiA l rl,1comncra.
assfl6~2esea Og37 l o 86.T 6),36oa, 9,alC(nt4.C3
co8 amo. a41 M..nle9a.l. asl. lsb Zgooio, jl.l ,ojmn)OCA.
8,. MJ0a4AeosY 4. .adC- M,(Bo ote.UEMaa31 47 ,l c 32
CJOW,3 i49. d3 6),d%, 0. I oM,-JS33 eS6)QO.
o0. fJ& J Q.Jqa@4 l35 C(Ms j(atD m oc136
26. asome37 oasO mo3yo38 28.33igo.39
9. uiomlo4o0 Ceso aoeM3oa oa 32oom 6>amoacQjo42
goasOlfB'lcsraMn neowlessofacymamooD ciartbfetio
33. Brease 34g.6d9>a, 35.3 i)fla0 ,1, 36wom. oe mmj
ThlBQa&mD' blOBl36Ct 3 l n)OQfls43 1m0o faj1nB
10. -aQlo44 Qlcncamla 3B esTcQmla, aoo45e.3a4J0
icgesfil arscnfalso~soea asaild mgnao
mcmodcmng46 6>casa6 (uodfl jaidainn <^cn47
Qca1iA^ ar o msleagegang48 'MIfADl.
11. -apeoma~no 0masa gpsrsnci o s(0io>49
aoimlcyo csauomeo sloJaclciO eoma c aOi~n(sccooedni)o50
26. osgieaO, 27. a*0, 28. ca>angye~lergjances (l6inca^,
29. ojomloica. 30 asQg!, 31. eocJloes, 32. a-ismlo0ming
S.aflai, 33. @molae,? 34. io, 35. ed9>o3p, 36. arecaoaona
yearaoas, 37. carndioleQ, 38. @caoll, 39. cnwoJ, 40. set
aosoB3ao. 41. ............... 42. mooodsao, 43. oia.e3ajoo,
44. mn)lrno, 45. a1, 46. cnmaj, 47. (lmoLnod, 48. m
0%0as eaog', 49. ele6hlu, 50. a'Occla 6moa36rqme.
Properly speaking, these two songs refer to Joseph
Rabban and the privileges granted to him by the Em--
peror Cheruman Perumal and engravad in the copper
plates charter granted to him; and with a. few annota-
tions these could be understood by most people. Hence
no further comment should be necessary. But, unfortu-
nately the last few words of the first stanza of the
Second song has been given by some writers an inter-
pretation which it neither bears nor connotes.
These words are:-.
which simply means 3600 measures of rice were
strewn. There is no place here for dates, expressed or
implied; and the simple meaning or a free translation
of the first stanza in question is:- "In the famous city
of Tiruvanchi, when the mighty prince Joseph Rabban
-wearing a crown, with 'pavada' spread along his way,
with day light, and adorned with precious jewels from
head to foot-went in a procession to the synagogue,
three thousand six hundred measures ("paras") of rice
were strewn. And the next stanza begins with the
expression:- "oelacumooo Ba6maoJi", meaning the
prince for whom or in whose honour the rice was
strewn. The last line of the II song, namely. a1iocm
QeC iol6Eao(tfl asn1r s'ioa o _.'iolmaucno confirms or
indicates the "measure" in use for rice; gnd the third
song in the Historical series, when referring to coins,
"fflslainmo fspD(olsdla301 a7ZnISMM10oc4 Wilg01,2n
moamo>"- indicating that coins are strewn by hand.
To this day, amongst the Jews here, it is customary
to strew money, rice or paddy, betel leaves etc. during
special occasions such as weddings, & at the synagogue
on the anniversary day of the destruction of the
.Temple; and strew them by the abovementioned met-
hod or measures (paras, handfuls etc.)
The "ari-yittu-varcha" or installation ceremony
is one held by a ruling Prince or Rajah, at his family
temple at the time he is installed as a ruler and possi-
bly once a year on such anniversaries. To give an
example:-During the 'Arat' festival in Trivandrum
now, when the Maharaja goes walking to the Temple,
rice, flowers & betel leaves are-strewn along the route
through which the Maharaja walks. A similar ceremony
is held at the temple when the Maharajau reaches the
place. When such is done, thatUis, rice etc are strewn
by hand, they are usually "done in multiples of 3 or
7. Here it should be remembered that the ruling prince
at the time of his installation is going in a procession
to the temple, exactly as done by Joseph Rabban
according to these 'songs.'
You may now ask me why 3600 "paras"? What
does this special number indicate? Think of the Maha-
rajah of Travancore and his auspicious numbers 3 & 7.
Joseph Rabban proves himself a Jew here. 3606 is a
multiple of 18, considered by the Jews as a number
having good omens or succses. The number 18 repre-
sents the Hebrew word 'Hai', meaning 'life' or 'happy
prosperous life'. Most donations & gifts in the syna-
gogue, to this day are announced in 18 or multiples of
18. Again the number 18 occurs in the 'amidah' service
(Shemoneh Esreh) chanted by the orthodox Jew three
times.a day, as the 18 'Blessings' enumrated thereinA
Then again, the height of the golden candlestick in
the Temple is 18 handbreadths".
A. "Berachoth". fol. 28, Col. 2.
B. "MEnachoth", fol. 28, Col.:2,
The number 3600 may also he interpreted in an-
other way which is also Jewish. In certain Rabbinical
Laws, the expression '1 in 60', as meaning 'insigni-
ficant for the purpose of calculation', is used. Here 60
is taken as the maximum and 1 as the menimum. 3600
is 60 times 60; and it therefore necessarily indicates
that considerable quantity of rice was strewn on the
The idea of taking 3600 ( even if it indicated a
year) is absolutely preposterous and contrary to histori-
cal facts. Historical records show that three import-
ant eras were adopted by the Jews. In the Biblical
days, there existed tne Era of the exodus (1492 B. C.);
and in the Post-Biblical times two eras have been in
use, the Seleucid era (commencing 312 B: C.) and the
year of Creation. Of the two latter eras, the former was
accepted by Jews generally down to the 1lth century
of the Christian era and in Malabar (as in Yemen) to
the sixteenth century both inCranganore and even in
Cochinc. For example, the Kadavaumbagam synagogue
in Cochin was built, as evident from the mural slab-of
the synagogue, in 1855 of the era of 'Shetharoth
(Sileueid .era) or 1544 c. E. & completed in 1861,
corresponding to 1550 c. E. Remember these songs
were with the Jews in Cranganore and the advent to
Cochin was only in the year 1565; and therefore the
idea of associating the era of creation with this song
Following these two songs certain passages are
sung with reference to the families of the bride, bride-
groom, bestmen, the senior member of the Ie ~family
etc. : That which:refers to the bridegroonm"is certainly
important.- All families (of Paradesi Jews) who came
C. Jewish Encyelodpaedia.
direct to Cochin are termed a Pao though by
blood relation they were Cranganorians; and those
who have come to Cochin indirectly through
Cranganore are niio6wias c.sas (meaning those who
have come through Anjuvan'nam, or Cranganore).
The families of Zaccai, Ashkenazy, Ashoori, Castiel &
others came under the latter category as survivors or
descendants of Cranganoresettlers. The exact words
used in the singing are:-
-so (O!zeoas roo~ amea (name of the Udeg .
Thebridegroom here is represented as a royal descend-
ant from Joseph Rabban.
The Second Song is followed by two short ones
Songs III & IV.
ceB a C80 cv b
OM6MMi6931 aftm mCD,01
eaNaiaQ 6ja 6 ) 1alccnOeaJo
fl)aaemo aQjo cboaraig6JnaJOQ
agooJlooo -oo cf3~~ smo,
aClcO(Do QaoJ3C)15 6)alQ6)_31O O IoQ6161o
OaSilosmno )og aoe(ase D .
aomfesa l o (nio miolonlaejssgo
asra3sel9 6(3moDBO >o10 -O^Tj-l
1. aobiolgarj(Om, 2. cmucocnaomanso ciomeafltonpa,
3. Qo>alao ntasv0oa, 4. esl~lmno, 5. e nJ oD; calsn,
6. aio 0lmey smdomal em*~ aoieo -~, 7. Aisa,1il am:a.
(sfmfnIsalo), 8. 9en&6Bot, 9. 9.enfsoOo, 10. Pean
nJ3(03TOO goaolee6smo Caooow es1 s1.
.I^TO a. 3saQloaTma
..io agshaimYto ceboiaosioci
cl3Jaom3te l6e6mo ca n0036 T .
c9b ( d 6) .
1. oa eOeai o o~BeiC6 a ag g e 3 12
raIo l@als'13 a6cnmes "
e)A,3OQ(U o14 61o oM3 "Y
Cmn63COB cIcRCs'reao Q-30 a 15 1
io Qasoo 63(C c&a0o "
ce1sl 63Mnoo ojOgQll6gj6 16
2. Alloiso m(daQ dor6)Snl "
misCi 6~~icmo osagsld i616ai17"
e6)6oisat6Bo &6Me18 0^a>36ano "
neJl1_Is 6>JSS6q QJl6'l lma "
e6OS6alWl aTo e6)-amoa "
3 oalleaSlon Qgj3op- 6 u "
O1sffi-ASMl o, ca 1.; Ge GdnBCw "
aba"o "losegca "
3. eat jo, 13. Paro, 14. e
Majedaool amsoaeo lsensBai( "
(ijoede^ sasej(Dle ce
Smo19 mDo 3canq@
ing great joy, 13. Parrot, 14. omnarse noemw ao maqiaa an
3molelmj~ao, 15. cxOA, 16. alcm, 17. qajo&il. (came in,).
18. a.n24(arrow), 19. c Wno (samanaoeacm Wmo)
(iL a, r "MgM 90 20 "
nj6m1'=21 6)dOSbd S226,)cl "
nJOcrn06)o ..Um c A crlcll "
As I have ahery stated, some attempts have been
made by certain local, writers in recent years, to in-
terpect the words and language of the statements con-
tained in these songs with sad results. These writers
have rightly associated the songs given above with the
charter to the Paradesi Jews and wrongly the probable
date of the grants of the same. Mr. T. K. Joseph
interpreted the last line in stanza 1 of song No. 2 as
containing some cronogram or other to conveniently
a date he had obtained from some one in Parur.
Imagine going to Parur to obtain the probable date of
the charter given to Paradesi Jews. It is no wonder
they are misled or misinformed. Mr. K. N. Daniel
who disagrees with Ms. Joseph has presented other
calculations as regards the date of the charter which
he also presumes has a reference in the above song. My
$tjend, Joseph Ch izhikattu of Palai went a step further
and declared Joseph Rabban a Syrian Christian and
therefore the copper plates really belonged to the Syrian
Community. Who ever expected Chazhikittu who
got the songs from me & who was my guest will ever
attempt to break the 8th commandment of the commu-
nity to whom his host belonged. I gave him a suitable
reply in my set of three articles on copperplates, pub-
lished in the local paper "Sathianatham", in November
1940. But then, in this action,' he was aided and 4a.tQ.
ted by no other, person than. the Archaeologist:qf the
20. a -a'lf>,, 21. aJ au3co'l,-a."'oplnr c'iol oa ls made it
for u8e 22.'.j' 23. a34As; a.
Travancore State. Hence both these writers may to-
gether be made responsible for this patho-logical
It is not my aim here to cite before you references
to the Jewish Chief in Cranganore in the descriptive
notices given by mediaeval travallers and merchants;
for, that would only weaken my arguments. To me,
there is nothing :grea- than our ceremonial songs
and traditions, which to the Jew are as sacred and in-
violable as any Law.
Why the Copper plates granted to Joseph Rabban
are in the possession of the Paradesi Jews from time
immemorial; why they should sing the praises of
Joseph Rabban in a Jewish assembly; why a Jewish
bridegrom be likened to Joseph Rabban; and above
all, why Joseph Rabban, after the grant of the copper
plates, should go to a synagogue-a Jewish place of wor-
ship-and pray to the God of Israel, as mentioned in
the above historical songs, why, unless Rabban be a
Jew-are questions to he answered by those responsible
for this 'abnormal' suggestion.
These are not the only instances where vagaries
of thoughts in historical matters have been in recent
years demonstrated, and the old songs have rectified
The annual Report of the Archaeo-logical Dept.
of the Cochin State for the year 1927-28 certain inex
cusable historical errors in a comment on some Hebrew'
insciption found in Chennamangalam. .How this
place with a synagogue built in the early part of the
XVII century could have a tombstone dated the XIII
century is beyond my powers of understanding.
The publication of "Shakthan Tampuran" by Mr.
P. Rama Menon has added unnecessary trouble for the
Jewish historian. Mr. Menon accused Paradesi Jews of
double allegiance or disloyalty to the Rajah, wrongly
interpreting some documents of which he thought he
was in sole possession. Imagine a community who,
during its 2000 years' sojourn inthis great land, have
never, in history, been accused of a criminal offence!
individually or collectively to be accused of sedition.
How un-Jewish to be disloyal! How un-Hindu-li'ke to
level such a charge against them! Being mixed with
other offensive or uncalled-for remarks, it looked as if a
prejudiced mind was waiting for some opportunity to
give vent to its biased views. A reference to Gravaz-
ande's work would have easily given him the answer he
wanted and spared him this unkind language. In Cha-
pter XXIII of his pamphet, Gravazande (1781) says:-
"Most of the quarrels among them (the Jews of Cochin)
are settled by the elders, and in affairs of greater im-
.portance, especially when they are oppressed in their
privileges by the King of the Country, they place
theirhi fl before the Dutch East India Company
who exercises authority over the King". It is unfor-
tunate that most of the dates in Jewish history given by
him in the above publication (Shakthan Tampuran) are
incorrect, his humour is insipid and his knowledge of
Shakspeare is evidently shallow. I would not like to
dilate further upon this unpleasant reference, but would
invite the attention of this author to a song sung by
Jewish women- a prayer song for the Royal Family
PRAYER FOR THE ROYAL FAMILY
1. Rogjoiunl moCn ermleo2 caOmomcm
gpomoqmh fmnn QGllgaoo o2lwam 6mo,
QasciBoefcmo aalOcomo Ijsog i6o>elem
(Boaoiooaes awlj GAoeBacmsro3Owalc
(BiB3eeooias rvalooao eao l as0oomn
eaaeollo onoaoyo Q,,oloooac
csoocgo o j1a casSI eas.Jgn o 93q
(MOO J (UO)J 6)O o Hg3qj -,Cml(-
mocriyo cx0 a40004o JUoT'Cs CtOm61d
goo0oc~Q omUoCrn maims MoaoM
EJ&ra saso eidmga e esco&Am
anJ3ai3(0>Ad4D( bag^ld a\ma *agips
S)a'Dmlao 0cam mooapiw (%aiaj
4. oncemamn o monaiA msweom*
*omgong 6amoaO'u afl.osismo
Reference has already been made to the fact that
there are six songs composed in honour of or with
r nce to 6he consuction these sessmo
gogues outside Cranganore. Four of these are in
ruins now. The songs ino 6iimre e o Mo te Pa.
5. SojoKadavumbagam & Thkubagam (n C3
Mattancherry) and the Paroor and Tirthur synagogues.
c&aor a @,O6hUe ao6Imr S)6) a6)no .
ea6'mQwococ EQ3(wTfl-fm mImaso6)&6mYno
m~Q~caei ~c%6) 6CYIO 6YM)36)U)M.
Reference has already been made to the fact that
there are six songs composed in honour of or with
reference to the construction of these synagogues. As
far as history and tradition go, there were twelve syna-
gogues outside Cranganore. Four of these are in
ruins now. The songs in reference allude to the Para-
desi, Kadavumbagam & Theckumbagamn (in Cochin-
Mattancherry) and the Paroor and Tirthur synagogues.
The following table will give the dates of construction
of these synagogues and the names of those responsi-
ble for the same.
Name of tne IDate of con. Person or persons
Synagogue. formation responsible.
2. Paradesi (,, ,, )
3. Paroor (in Tra-
Baruch Levi (from Cran-
ganore), father of Joseph
Levi, the first Mudaliar
in Cochin. Completed by
Jacob Castiel, father of
David Castiel, the fourth
Mudaliar who built the
Samuel Castiel, (the 3rd
mudaliar) David Balish,
Ephraim Salah and Joseph
Levi-all from Cranganore
David Castiel, the fourth
Jacob Castiel, son of David
Castiel, and the 5th Muda-
The above information
is necessary in estimating
the historical significant of the songs herein appended.
The song on the Paradesi synagogue contains
references to the history of the community both'in the
Land of Israel and in Cranganore. Here is an extract
from the same.
x x x x
syagogueias te nolydo tt k r en oh
tormcaga l ev neand of Israeland coloniio
36Qmofmoq &goqaec aimaaob o
o TVCraMgj anore The ommssio osfCDtqCWro
aruojctl aeioeagm o agedoQo seasO e
PsoaltU Sos 000 eonoa)JnO6MOI
coscon woeao ojoSo 6USas3tMainono
ierestos cderts4cilasi cant
x x x x
masSO mWoy O (slPioolt6sMqo
mQ6>aioieo.l alaa uoomoaian.
Here it may be repeated that the song on the Paradesi
synagogue is the only one that makes reference to his-
torical events in the Land of Israel and colonization
of 'Cranganore. The commission of thesm i^ tafrom
'the other songs which contain only those of local
interest, is certainly significant.
THE SYNAGOGUE AT. TIRTHUR was built
by Ezekiel Rahabi (1694-1772 C. E.) in 1750 C. E.,
and was closed for service in 1761. Moens speaks of
this Synagogue on p. 198 of his Memorandum. He
states: "On the Island of Tirthur. belonging, to the
family of the well-known Ezekiel Rahabi live ten fa-
milies and there is also a synagogue there." Here are the
extracts from the Song which consists of six stanzas:-
1. a.eoa1s916ianBa0Qoewla rml ijdeor
eapioj se ao om aconucnmlme>
x x x x
6aojso' a C ool4 C& 5
nM7acy cpa osMaooCoi5
someQomego raJmcbo a6iB(Xj(O~cfl3
eaceruod9aB oosmecr ~mo
3. lon ewao ( o2 ( ) temalCoaBoh(on
7. fldaeonth3o, Q (T)essCi0 O6
3 s.oeBasoncQ>(o B laiacelfaolBom'o
m 2clp1b lmaosicniomcnogo
cnoQDimamadeOo a0)eoa gllacmboo
4. BascT6Scm(236)CW3O=C 8(1Sm3TOnajlJe07
1moo MDo6 M o3old C(n10
1. Sorrow, 2. Ancient, 3. Blessing 4. Power ((ow1audaao)
5. One who owns, (oIamca) 6. A term of honour,
7. Month, 8. Greatness.
(Oacn3(Tefaimed iajeco630no MnaMSgopoogfeoiMlg
SONG ON THE PAROOR SYNAGOGUE:-
This Song contains the following important
lines amongst the ten Stanzas of
which it is composed:-
SONG O',N THE PAROOdR SYNAGOGUE:-m
This Sog contains the following important
The Thirdss aon interesting incident of
the Portuguese landing there and firing mischievously
at the synagogue, evidently at the time of the service.
3. iasargedaiBap0oaseorit e
C.ivedjin p6r a6ose3itoa)B.
9.The Thirved stanza gives arity. interesting incident of
aosl&aiemrJBo eO(B Q@aOs6io6acun9fl0org
6e aYM0oaj aa6)3Mo09 CqEa~3ot(Bq(aao.
X X X X
The only reference here is to the Mudaliar (David
Castiel the 4th Mudaliar) being responsible for the.
construction of the synagogue, and thus the statement
in the mural slab in the eastern wall of the synagogue
is confirmed, and the services rendered to history by
the Cranganorian Jew Eliavoo Adni are gratefully
THE SONG ON KADAVUMBAGAM (COCHIN) SYNAGOGUE:-
This song contains five stanzas, in addition to
an Epilogue, and is obsolete amongst the Paradesi Jews,
though still in vogue amongst the other communities.
The Epilogue makes a reference to the number of seat-
holders in the synagogue.
1. -m la' 6a)Muoos, )406) d% 30po' x l,
x x x x
x x x x
x x x x
a6in olhswosl'QaiD MODO WoV40"a
1. In te world, 2. Carefuly 0m caaocnI o.)
1. In the world, '2. 'refuIly ("i' a
The Song on the THECKUMBAGAM (Cochin) SYNAGOGUE.
This song, consisting of 6 stanzas, & relating to the
building of the synagogue is historically very import-
ant in fixing the date of its construction and the
position of the Theckumbagam Congregation with
reference to the other Jewish Communities in Cochin:
1. ~aslcQrimoclmlcno ajoonan
eoQmoT lmsne3 en-lncoo~nm
3. o6)eoo(lo 6)3c6 a63j Osome
~gamseo.s nn a7ojtieen.
x X x x
2. 6smB36oca3)a oTaeombloa
Qoano(rils ro40(fl m7s o p.
eO~cllnam detslml efepos
MO(o asi)Slaeo 4Ca.Aoolieamo
3. fsecoomao 6s36Cneyj e60SOSooJ(mo
x x x x
6>U.Q (^alb 0seinoA n .so laesmo'
m)n1agoea36)&3 ag twocirosle 6)a3m
rs((06o(e(o ysm icanj1d @6q
(Btodeardo (ooneed~al mlaogo one.
4. X X X x
6>db3oo solSlayo c49a(lfigbigO
;?oJ~ ~o c~CIo 6U snBoo
5. (m, cbn) 3) e1 C l3o7
X X X X
x x x x
6. 6)dct0S6ooc3CD6V0a ilJMTh ro'th'is
(8r6aEftiO9(0(RZM06)S( ) BrosI) (0(OTO)
X x x X
In view of the importance of this song, a rough
and summarised transtation of it in English is added
here for the benefit of those readers who cannot under-
stand the language of the song:--
1. Those who formed themselves the Theckum-
bagam congregation separated from the Kadavumba-
gam synagogue) desired to have a separate place of
worship built for them; but found they could not
manage it themselves.
2. Hence they made up their mind to go to the
Paradesi synagogue and represent matters to the lead-
ers of that synagogue. The Theckumbagam gathered
themselves at the latter place while a service was
going in; and at the end of the service they were asked
what they wanted.
3. On their expressing their desire to build a
synagogue, the Mudaliar asked them if they could
Scarry out the project themselves. Their reply was:
"First with God's help and then with yours, we shall
do this work."
4. On the 15th of the month of 'Shebath', the
Paradesi Jews gathered at the place where they want-
ed the synagogue to the built, and with music and
singing, the foundation was laid by them.
5. This was followed by a "Feast"; and later the
Paradesi children left the place.
Full details connected with this synagogue will be
found in my book dealing with the "Synagogue in
Malabar." But a few references may be cited here to
make the historical significance of the song complete
The mural slab placed at the entrance of this
synagogue gives the date 1647 c. E., which date is
confirmed by this song and other sources of evidence.
It was built by Jacob Castiel, the fifth Mudaliar (to
whom the requistion was made) and the son ofDaviX
Jacob Castiel (the 4th Mudaliar) who built the Parur
synagogue in 1616 c. E. (5376). This synagogue was
in existence in 1655 c. E. (Vide Menasseh ben
Israel's words to Cromwell). Therefore the date 1647
The Kadavumbagam synagogue in Jews' Town
was built in 1540, and the Paradesi synagogue in 1568;
and therefore both these synagogues were in existence
in 1647 when the Theckumbagam synagogue was built.
In the legal contest between the Theckumbagam
and Kadavumbagam synagogues in Cochin in 1881,
historical vandalism' was practised to such on extent
that the ends of justice would not have been met even
to the extent'it did but for the fact that the judge
evidently khew the whole truth about these two con-
1. See notes on the "synagogues."
gregations. By meddling with the mural slabs of the
synagogues, each of these tried to prove that it was the
oldest synagogue in existence. And yet, the above
song gives the solid truth as to the date of construct-
ion. Hence its great importance which (alas!) was not
in evidence at the time the legal action was going on;
and there was not one soul, at that ia'ihour to pro-
duce this song and thus renderhistorica1 service to the
legal authorities of the State, with the sid result, justice
has been miscarried in certain aspects.
Here I must gratefully acknowledge the greal ser-
vices rendered to the community, to the historian and
to the Jewish world by the late Mr. Isaac E. Hallegua-
In this legal struggle, he and he alone represented the
Paradesi Community and exerted himself as no one has
done to demonstrate to the legal authorities concerned
the true aspect of the history involved in the case. He
and he alone collected all the records, inscriptions and
published articles and books, and generally carried out
a heavy thankless job in ,the interests of truth and
history. His services were never publicly appreciated
as evidently there was no one who could appreciate
them; and hence I not only pay hin this tribute due
to him as master and guide, but also place on record
the inestimable services he rendered to the historic
This is a red letter day in the history of the Para
desi Jews here in that one of themselves has been
privileged to stand before a gathering of experts and
give them first hand information on the history, cust-
oms and traditions of this historic community,
To-day it is also our privilege to be in a locality
so richly historical that not only the songs of this
ancient community, but every bit of the structure of
this famous street, its houses and synagogues, has its
history to tell; and let me ,offer you, gentlemen, my
grateful thanks for having made this possible.
EXTRAGTS FROM SPECIMEN SONGS (IN MALAYALAM) ON
SUBJECTS OTHER THAN 'LOCAL' HISTORY:-
I. BIBLICAL THEMES (a) Early History.
"PATRIARCH JACOB AND SON JOSEPH.
21 stanzas of 8 lines each.
1. 60MnascJ3( s6i3ommcn ~oamJ mo ms6ron m
6)moaW3S)es icealosoca ooa36sUo a0,eo
WfJl06a400S6WT) 060ctD8( e6M 6)eCW0R0G
Noizcoolooa t~om)m3 cgJoc o.
601302 00awq 4.aazia a o.
GaWoW0 a.%Cj Wl06o0 0W ,oro
x x x x
(b) Later History (Hagio-graph.)
"BOOK OF ESTHER"
9 stanzas of 8 lines each,
1. Boo06l0manco sQoole&mn soiolaMoac
BgS6a)on6ogr5ao (naslei aoyo
osm1aBcCho no1g1 csses eLJOaig
oCb6,o seanoclo 'feic663QO o(X cunDlo'a.
2. jta.socmog o a &mo a o~.B(mg e33m(n3l
onionmos^ easceaqo ua>1alBaimisseanxoio30o
saoamfAlea ax Samjlip
,a cfrli)iro6acnJ tQacinyooits&Loa3o
nia sl inoCda ,a> oe,1nm
Dioamlem GOoW4 4QjOO
x x x x
"11 Stanzas of 6 lines each."
I. ao9cm Sfcooasm). 8olfl6em 2 TavwcudcnP
.oia0coora SQ o emcne 6)(s6ed r x a a roor mncd,
6)boocaOo )aiegJoo1yL4o, )-o&nTdb)Q ai6MMFnai)mn
4a00 6)5B'01 1(9PCo a465)C4O (4(Zo,6rnW0)10o
x x x x
(a) Blessings for bridegroom.
(5 stanzas of 8 lines each.)
1, n(.m)1ad 03 )lcn4 g)w8aao>1aOl6ef6mo
air!@g}o Bia>6ennicK>sonz aB3Ds6S6Sa
OJeil DeJa, 3
61MongJiyVatl oi oO3C m1t6'4C6 6)n(alaZo
M10Qcn)6K0 Cfl)61010 6OU)OCT CJJ S6)4
"QI-iao BShlcIAo 062.l0s 06) M@OT1a36e.
x x x x
4. ofs-a l cn7Irao ocgjmnaga '
OrMCoodno ki\1<\O mlOaeOoese 66naoce%
6OV303CQ)1aS (Qjm-nLflnJS ru3M)QX1sijSl
oiayoms Oo n$jego mCnaiB 6iaeocso
Ba>ooo gal1s iserofdo cloBcru(lah
ao8colnay isotio mlmneseftojlga6laso
6X(3032S SOsO)cn~>om} esmn.sic i
x x x x
(b) A Ballad 6n love. (10 stanzas of 2 lines each)
1. Omoloajo @eshema32 mUoec'6iecM
m jnisx isroamo2 n1g4ojam
2. (app>soos*0 ofa'o avucro oaal3a)bl
sacl(6iesa a aQJMnT 6)rna86nrJSoiOo.
3. (cwext" rx x06) CASIooMoC0daJ 5a(CBma3oO
'Oa61T9 Nl))3ca (fseC3(0'ltajoo.
x x x x
2. Hebrew word for 'love'.
1. Twenty-four Books comprising the Bible.
Special meeting of. the members of the Archaeological
Society of South India (Branch, Cochin) at Jews'
Town, on Sunday, the 28th July, 1946
EXCURSION TO HISTORICAL SITES:
1. COCHIN ANGADI SYNAGOGUE 1345 c. E.
Built by Joseqh Azaar, the last Jewish Chief of
Cranganore. (Paiva testifies of having seen,
in Cochin, in 1686, the burial- place* of
Joseph Azaar, and met, Mosseh and Meyer,
royal descendants, on mother's side whose
great great grandfather was Joseph Azaar,
the last King at Cranganore, and who were
granted royalty pension by the Dutch Gov-
ernment). closed for service in 1789 c. E,
2. THE KADAVUMBAGAM SYNAGO-
GUE Built by Baruch Levi, father of
Joseph Levi, the first "Mudaliar" in Cochin. 1544 c. E.
3. JEWS' TOWN completed and occu-
pied in .... .. .. 1567 c. E.
4. PARADESI SYNAGOGUE next to
the Rajah's palace, a common wall separar
ting the Synagogue from the temple in the
Palace grounds. Reference to this made by
the Indian representative (Sir Ramaswami
Mudaliar) at the San Fran-cisco Conference
this year. It forms the holy centre of Jew-
ish loyalty and the noble Hindu toleration,
as represented in the g;;acious person of His
Highness, the Maharajah.
Building of the Synagogue ... .. ,1,568 c. E.
Partial destruction by the Portughese ... 1662 c. E.
Renovation of the building
Building of the Clock Tower .. .
Tilling, with willow-pattern tiles
from Canton, China ... .
Presentation of a gold crown by the
Maharajah of Travancore.
Presentation of a silver case (for the
scrolls of the law) and two silver
lamps by Col: McCauly, the British
Resident. ... ... ... ... ...
IN THE SYNAGOGUE, note:
(1) The copper plates traditional date ..-
1664 c. E.
1761 C. E.
1762 c. E.
1805 C. E.
1806 C. E.
379 C. E.
(2) The brass 'menorah' or candlestick used on special
occasions, and constructed on the pattern described in
the Bible, Exodus XXV.34: "And in the candlestick
Shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their
knops and flowers."
(1) The" laver of brass" and the 'base of brass' on an
ornamental stand an exact picture of this article in
the second Temple; and the same is placed, in the
South East corner of the Entrance room (Azarah")'
in accordance with the instructions laid down in
Exodus, XXX. 17-21.
(4) The willow-pattern china tiles form the most.
characteristic and most attractive thing that present
themselves to the visitor. They were. especially made
in China at his expense and brought down by the
famous' Ezekiel Rahaby, the 'merchant' of the Dutch
(Moens). They are hand-painted. The special corres-
pondent of the Daily Telegraph describes them in the
"All are in order in the Parathesi here the scrolls
of the law, within the panels of the Raredos, the
brass railings of the reading dais clean and polished,
and one suddenly' realises that everywhong under
foot are the finest blue tiles that ever made a collec"
tor break the last of this community's own com-
mandment." (March 5, 1906).
(5) The ark, unlike the other synagogues in India and
the Far East, is placed in the western wall in the form
of a wall-almirah. This arrangement is seen also at
Kaingaigpa. China, whose Jewish colony is his-
torically an off-shoot from Malabar.
(6) The additional spacious pulpit on the first floor-
a peculiarity of the Synagogues in Malabar is char-
acteristic of some of the Synagogues in the Eastern
Mediterranean region, such as southern Italy (the
Roman style seen in Churches).
(7) The golden cup, costing originally Rs. 1033/-
and weighing over 100 sovereign weight used on
ceremonial occasions, such as weddings, circumci-
4. THE THEKUMBAGAM SYNAGOGUE
Builtb:ijcob Castiel (.-t4e 5th Mudaliar and
the son of IaVld Jacob Castiel, who built the
Paroor synagogue in 1616). .. ... 1647 c. E.
Jews' Town, A. I. Simon.
Cochin, July 28, 1946.J
Printed at the PANG AL PRESS, Mattancherry COCHIN.