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Saturday, December 11, 2010

syrian Stories part Two

The next day would see us speeding this time with Mohammed who was guide and driver rolled into one he was rich with anecedotes legends and knew a lot unlike our Ali and Hamoud who knew how to grin and not much else . We went to Maloula and Sydnara hill stations about 100 km from Damascus ,the hills were about 1500 metres high . Maloula appeared after a steep climb through rocky openings ,it was a craggy town that melded with the rocks and houses perched on the steep rock faces with huge boulders above and below them ,so far none have fallen down said Mohammed . The town is rich with christian lore heading back to the times of Jesus Christ St Paul who was called Saul then one of the twelve apostles had come here immediately after Jesus left the world and had converted many who were the early Syrian christians , one young girl was persecuted by her father for this conversion from their pagan way of worship and he chased her into the mountains ,which is said to have split open to create a way for the girl to escape ,the very mountain pass leads us into Maloula which means the way or from one level to another ( in higher philosophy this could mean a passage to higher realms ) we went to the convent of saint Tekla built in her memory and saw the urn with holy water said to be her collected tears during her turmoils . thye tried several ways of killing her like pushing her down the mountains ,putting fire to her but strangely she escaped all this to become the saint she is today the church was built in dug in caves and fitted niches of rocks on the sheer mountain face ,it was cosy and cool and decorated beyond belief an air of serenity filled the palce and one was transported back in a time machine to the times of Jesus Christ himself . The people still spoke Aramaic the language of Christ himself even to this day there and sermons were held in the language strangely the link between Kerala and its syrian christians was all the more pronounced as we saw orthodox churches very similar to the ones seen in south Kerala ,with its capped priests ornate chandeliers and cosy feels . It is a known fact that st Thomas had converted several nampoothiri families from Kerala and they became Syrian christians but i read online versions of this being a big myth and the Syrian Christians in Kerala were descendants born of local wedlocks of the early Syrian settlers driven off to far lands by pagan worshippers ,they were called nazranees ( from nazareth ,even today we call south Kerala christians as Nazranis )maybe the truth was amixture of both . the fact is that a similarity exists and this is felt true on visiting Maloula . st Thomas himself had come here and there is a church dedicated to him too ,there was one dedicated to two soldiers of the Roman army who got converted and were sentenced to death Sydnara was also a place of Christian lore and a rich heritage site of tourism . we enjoyed our foray into the mountains and were rewarded by the sights of hundreds of rosy cheeked Syrian schoolgirls out on a picnic to the hills and who were chattering incessantly like tweeting sparrows . The same day evning we went up the Casiom hills to watch the setting sun illuminate the city of Damascus ,as it was a friday and a holiday cars lined up the edges with families picnicking bringing out thier deck chairs to sit and gaze in the mountain airs As the sun sank below the far seen Ummayad mosque and souk the twinkling lights lit the city ablaze like a string of pearls . We came down to the wander amongst cobbled streets old churches and the christian quarter of old Damasus where life seemed to have stood still since the past . there was a fresh bakery its oven baking flavoured croissant and succulent cakes ,quaint boutique hotels cottage shops all gave it the appearance of an European city and we felt we were somewhere in Spain or Greece . It was late in the night by the time we returned and packed for our trip back the next afternoon . syria filled us with lore and stories that could be told for long over balmy evenings do visit the place please


Anonymous said...

very good blog, wanna visit syria nw sounds lyk fun.
P.S- u r improving

Nebu said...

If Manorama or Deepika sees photo no.7 & 9 they'll publish it as example for communal harmony :)

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