A Jewish Wedding Ceremony in India
Dec 28, 2008 06:57 PM
South India has a tiny Jewish population, and here is a news item of a
wedding in Kochi, in S. India.
Kochi: Amid tight security in the wake of the Chabad House attack in Mumbai,
the Paradesi Synagogue in the old Jewish town in Mattancherry on Sunday
witnessed a Jewish wedding after a gap of 21 years.
The marriage of Solomon, son of Josephai Abraham of the Thekkumbhagam
congregation of the dwindling Cochin Jewish community (called by Israelis as
Cochinis) to Susan of the Bene Israel (sons of Israel) Jewish community in
Mumbai was solemnised at 5.30 p.m. as a select gathering of about 250 guests
with security passes issued by the police witnessed the customary colourful
ceremony held behind closed doors.
The last wedding to have been solemnised in the grand old synagogue was in
1987 when Gershom Joshua of the Cochin Jewish community got married to
Elizabeth Abraham of the Bene Israel community as the Jew street lined with
Dutch houses was choc-a-bloc with people from all over the world arriving to
Kochi's Jews, had originally settled in the ancient port of Cranganore ,
presently Kodungallore, in AD 72 after the Roman legions attacked their
temple in Jerusalem.
In the 14th century when they were forced to flee Cranganore under
Portuguese onslaught, the Cochin Maharaja gave them land in Mattancherry
where they built what came to be known as the 'Paradesi Synagogue' in 1568.
But the community's strength started eroding as more and more people left in
search of the Promised Land after the India became Independent.
The marriage, however, was a low-key affair. As it was the ninth day of the
Jewish Hanukkah festival, nine candles were lit and prayers sung prior to
the wedding ceremony. Solomon arrived in a black suit and his bride wore a
flowing milky-white gown.
In what is unique to the Kochi Jews, the blessing, a part of the verse is in
Aramaic, was read out by the bridegroom. The bride, all the while veiled,
and the bridegroom sat under a chuppah (canopy), a decorated piece of cloth
held aloft as the couple's symbolic home.
Ketuvah, the marriage agreement detailing the husband's earthly obligations
to his wife, was read out and signed by the couple.
Breaking their fast for the day, Solomon and Susan sipped wine and as her
face, unveiled, flowered into a smile, he slipped the wine-soaked wedding
ring on her finger and broke a wineglass, a practice reminiscent of the
destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.
In the absence of a rabbi, chief warden of the Paradesi Synagogue, Samuel
Hallegua, read out the seven blessings in Hebrew.
Thunderous applause and a song in Hebrew marked the culmination of the
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