The Idea of India
The Search For The Bent Cross, January 7th 2010

At the shrine of the Bent Cross, Mattancherry, Cochin, Kerala

I am searching for the Chapel of the Bent Cross in Cochin’s Matancherry district.

The story goes that in 1635 the Syrian Christians who had forcibly been converted to Roman Catholicism declared their return to their original faith. The Kunan Kurisu Revolt as this is known marked the final divide between the Jacobites and the Catholics. And it was at this small chapel, one that has now become holy to Christians, Muslims and Hindus, that they swore their sacred oath ‘Kunan kurisu satyam anu’ (The Bent Cross is the Truth).

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Legend however tells that the cross floated from the sea, and was installed here. One day a Hindu singer named Bhrandan (the crazy one) was asked to come and perform here and the cross bent completely. Nothing anyone could do since would make it unbend. Until the portugese banned it, Hindu singers were frequently invited to sing at Christian shrines.

I walk the streets to find this cross. And much like the rest of this project, I seek not the object of my search, but the pleasure and surprises (visual, intellectual, emotional) along the way.

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