THE JEWS AND MUZIRIS HOSPITALITY
While King Solomon was building the great Temple at Jerusalem in BC 961, the Jews were having trade links with Kerala in the South-West coast of India, embracing the Arabian Sea.
The first Jewish settlement in India was at Kodungalloor Located 35 Km North of Cochin, Kerala State in India. These were the ancient names of Kodungalloor - Shingly by Jews, Muziris by Romans/Greeks and Cranganore by Portuguese. Kodungalloor was the Only Sea Port (1000BC) in India known to the outside world.
Nearly 3000 years ago Kodungalloor has been keeping trade relations with Palestine. Many a Jewish traders who came to Kodungalloor for trade purposes settled here, as they could not return to their country, due to turbulent weather and rought Sea. When the second temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, many Jewish families who had heard of the tolerance, generosity and hospitality of the people of Kodungalloor, from their brethren who had settled here, ventured to this place. Then the Hindu Rulers as well as the People of Kodungalloor gave them a warm welcome and they settled here enjoying the love, compassion and security rendered by the Kodungallurities (People of Kodungalloor).
History says that the First Jews arrived in Kerala from the King Solomon's Merchant Fleet. St. Thomas arrived in Kodungalloor in 52 AD, St. Thomas was welcomed by a Jewish Flute Girl. He stayed in the Jewish quarter of the town. It is interesting to learn that even today some of the hymns chanted in the Synagogues, especially on Jewish Holy days, are called Shingly Melodies. The attachment of the Jews, to Kodungalloor (Muziris) was so strong that till recently a handful of Shingly Sand found a place in the Coffin of every Jew along with that from the Holy Land.
The valuable spices of Kerala, such as pepper, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, turmeric etc. had attracted the Jews to Kerala by crossing the turbulent seas centuries ago. Jews have made substantial contribution in the field of trade and commence in Kerala. Forward trading and money lending business originated with them. The Banking also began with them.
Jewish Population in Kerala began declining rapidly since the formation of their own Nation 'Israel' in 1948. Their emigration to Israel en mass was not motivated by any intolerance or ill-treatment metted out to them by the Government of Kerala or by external political or social pressure but their staunch religious fervor to live and die in the Holyland.
The centuries old history of the Jews in Kerala, the history of their sufferings and sorrows, as well as the Joy of their adventures and achievements lie here silently.
Among the remaining Jews in Kerala, those who are aged above seventy, severely feel loneliness as all their Kith and Kin are now settled in Israel permanently. Still these old people do not intend to leave Kerala as they are deeply rooted in this soil, so deep, that it can not be rooted out.