Kochi is home to both Malabari and Foreign Jewish communities. 

Kochi was once home to a thriving Jewish population. But since 1948 they began migrating to their promised land Israel which has led to the gradual decrease in their population. 

It is believed that the forefathers of Malabari Jews were from Babylon who initially settled in Muzris which then was a happening international port. Once the port was destructed by a flood, a group migrated and settled in Kochi. 

Malabari Jews were primarily a trading community. The role that they played in developing Ernakulam into a trading hub is pivotal. The wholesalers in the Ernakulam market, till date, use Hebrew numerals for business communication which is a reminder of a strong Jewish influence. 

It is said that the older generation of Malabari Jews in Kochi, apart from Hebrew, Aramaic the language which is said to have used by Jesus Christ. This claim might well have been true especially with the evident Aramaic influence in their traditional songs. 

Numerous Malabari Jewish Synagogues, the proud representatives of a bygone era, are now in a state of abandonment and subjected to encroachments and unscientific renovations. 

PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION BY BIJU IBRAHIM: COMMUNITIES OF KOCHI

Places have souls and Mattancherry in the city of Kochi has a mystic one. Biju Ibrahim discovered this while documenting the lives of Kochi’s 38 communities through black and white pictures. Distinct in layers of identities – caste, faith, language, ethnicity and region – these communities have been welcomed over centuries and have, in turn, infused Mattancherry and Kochi with a rare and rich heritage. Historically, it has been home to Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus. The sea and port attracted sailors, traders from Arabia and Gujarat, preachers of Semitic faiths, colonisers such as the Dutch and Portuguese, political refugees and migrant labourers. A cross-section of India lives here in a radius of 5 kilometers. 

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AUTHOR & PHOTOGRAPHER

BIJU IBRAHIM

He captures the essence of rustic geographies, the people who are now becoming archive of the earth, the mythic & mystery of spaces & places, alleys of now filled with the density of then or before.

ART ORGANISATION

URU ART HARBOUR

URU art harbour is a cultural hub situated at Kochi. URU seeks to be a space for collaboration and a continual hub for artistic, cultural, and intellectual exploration. Founded by Riyas Komu and Zoya Riyas.

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