Kerala is a melting pot of various religions, the predominant among them being Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. There are also Jews, Buddhists and Jains though their numbers are few. The tribal people of Kerala have their own distinct religious beliefs, rituals and forms of worship. Hinduism shaped the art, culture and traditions of Kerala. Almost every village in the state has a temple dedicated to its own local guardian deity. The major temples of Kerala are Sabarimala, the Krishna Temple at Guruvayoor, the Chottanikara Temple, the Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple and the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The priests of the temples belong to the Namboodri caste.Onam is an ancient festival. According to the traditional legend, King Mahabali was a great and benevolent king and his subjects lived in a golden utopian era. The Gods began to fear his growing popularity and became jealous of him. Lord Vishnu, in the form of a dwarf, approached the king and tricked him into going down to the Netherworld. But simultaneously the Lord granted the king a boon that he could visit his people once a year.
Christianity was brought to Kerala in 52 AD by Saint Thomas the Apostle of Christ. The two major groups are the Syrian Catholic Christians who trace their ancestry to the upper castes who were converted by Saint Thomas. The Latin Catholic Christians are the people whose ancestors were the lower castes and the fisher folk who were converted by the Portuguese. The Anglo- Indian community was formed in Kerala when the Europeans intermingled and married the local people. There are various denominations and churches in Kerala.
The Muslim traders who first came to Kerala from Arabia in the 8th century AD brought with them Islam. Though they speak Malayalam the language of the state, the Muslims of Kerala have a distinct culture that is a blend of Malayalam culture with a blend of Arabic influence that sets them apart.Though there are some people of Kerala that follow Buddhism and Jainism, their number is not very large. The Jews fearing religious persecution fled to Kerala and made Cochin their home. The two main Synagogues in Kerala are the Paradesi Synagogue in Cochin and the Synagogue at Parur. Most of the younger generation of Jews has migrated to Israel and the few families that are left are generally the older generation of Jews.
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