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# 08080 :  Knanaya brethren
I understand that there is a group called knanaya brethren among the brethren and they marry only people from that community. Is this right biblically? Is the body of Christ divided? If they can partake in Lord's supper and thereby be one in Christ, why cant they consider all brethren as one in marriage? Paul considered all his traditional and family greatness as rubbish and cosidered himself one in Christ with the brethren. Christ broke the wall of separation. There is no longer any difference all are one in Christ.
Post by : jessica67  View Profile    since : 26 Jun 2016

Reply by : tomj   View Profile   Since : 30 Jun 2016 8:01:56 PM Close


The information you shared above seems incorrect. There is no such group that I am aware of from my years of experience, unless something surfaced in the last 30 some years in Kerala. And I doubt such thing could have happened. You may have mixed it up with the catholic group with that name and they do prefer and to some extent make it mandatory to marry within that community. I have several friends who belong to that group even in the USA. 

Tom Johns

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Reply by : commonman   View Profile   Since : 1 Jul 2016 9:38:12 AM Close

Brother Tom Johns,

The Knanaya (supposed to be descendants of migrants who came with Thomas of Cana) do exist among the brethren and pentecostal denominations, though they are fewer in number than their brethren in the traditional denominations. They rarely stand out in any other way, except (in some, not all, cases) on the issue of marriage. I have plenty of close family friends who are from this ethnic group who have been staunchly brethren but have married from the Knanaya clan, even though their prospective spouse may be from another denomination (Pentecostal/Marthomite/Jacobite-Orthodox); I personally know more than one person who ended up marrying 2nd cousins to adhere to this custom. But this practise appears to be dying.

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Reply by : critic   View Profile   Since : 1 Jul 2016 1:05:10 PM Close
Commonman, you are correct. Not 30 yrs but even 50 yrs it is like that. Recently a brethren girl married a pentecost boy by the same reason. But this is some other way practised by traditional believers. Thet do not take girl or boy from convetted christians. And even dont break bread together at some places. Converted christians do have their on gatherings in some places. Even in west malayalis prefer malayali. May be a malayali believer may marry a white but never a black. So nothing wrong with the practise of kananaya group. I hope the traditiona administrator wont delete this.
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Reply by : tomj   View Profile   Since : 1 Jul 2016 1:20:25 PM Close

Wow! I learned this for the very first time. Are / were they generally from certain part of Kerala? Thanks for the info. 

Tom Johns


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Reply by : commonman   View Profile   Since : 2 Jul 2016 2:54:32 AM Close

Bro Tom Johns,

I am really not sure of their geographic spread though most of the Knanaya people I am familiar with are from the Central Travancore belt: the Alleppey-Pathannamthita-Kottayam belt (I'm not sure if this is their ancestral place or place where their forefathers settled in).


I agree on the fact that such traditions/prejudices exist among all of us to varying degrees. I have no clue how I would behave if I were from a Knanaya background. Most of the Knanaya people I know are very, very close family friends who have gone out of their way to help people and we remain close, but these traditions are a retrogressive.

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Reply by : paizanjoe   View Profile   Since : 2 Jul 2016 11:12:11 AM Close

Very much like the Parsis in Mumbai.

But the problem with them is that today, they are considered one of the few tribes that are 'endangered'.

Speaking of Knanaya, I have heard of this sect in Kerala. In some instances they marry within their blood to keep the line going. Resulting in incest and genetic problems.

But now, it seems they are fading since the youngsters dont believe in those traditions and have chosen slowly yet steadily withdraw themselves from these customs.





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Reply by : paulthomas1   View Profile   Since : 7 Jul 2016 10:37:56 PM Close

tomj and others,

This group still exists and is very much continuing the practice of sticking to marrying from their own clan! I know for atleast 3 weddings in the past 2 years from "Knanaya brethren" families that ended up marrying from pentacostal background to continue the bloodline (have to admit they tend to be fairer then common man not sure whats in the blood/DNA). It always happens that if the boy is from pentacostal background the girl ends up in their church  and if the boy is from brethren the girl comes over but still tries to pull the boy to the other side.

Very much active and not at all fading!

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Reply by : critic   View Profile   Since : 8 Jul 2016 3:54:24 PM Close
Story says kanayi thomman had two wives. Descendants of first wife are malankara christians and that of second knananaya christians. They had family feud like between rachel and leah in jacob family. They resist to mingle. But knanayites claim they came antioch and are chaldeans from the chaldean king Darius lineage. Some of their customs in marriages are claimed to be chaldean.
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