Author Topic: Anything I should know before attending a Malankara (Indian) Orthodox qurbana?  (Read 1274 times)

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Offline Nicholas_83

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Hi. I belong to a Coptic parish and have also attended Ethiopian and Armenian services.  So I'm not unfamiliar with Oriental Orthodox worship. However due to this I am familiar with the rich diversity of our liturgical traditions. This will be in Minnesota, not India by the way.  Can anyone who attends and Indian church or has attended let me in on anything different of which I should be aware? Dress code, customs regarding recieving communion, faux pas to avoud, anything at all really?
I really appreciate it. Unfortunately there email/phone contact are non-responsive (Not just being antsy. Tried a couple times over a few years... but they continue to put up a schedule online)

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Hi. I belong to a Coptic parish and have also attended Ethiopian and Armenian services.  So I'm not unfamiliar with Oriental Orthodox worship. However due to this I am familiar with the rich diversity of our liturgical traditions. This will be in Minnesota, not India by the way.  Can anyone who attends and Indian church or has attended let me in on anything different of which I should be aware? Dress code, customs regarding recieving communion, faux pas to avoud, anything at all really?
I really appreciate it. Unfortunately there email/phone contact are non-responsive (Not just being antsy. Tried a couple times over a few years... but they continue to put up a schedule online)

Even when dealing with a regular parish, it can be hard to talk to someone via phone/email, so the situation in MN doesn't seem abnormal, especially considering their circumstances.  If they're putting up a regular schedule of events, I'd say just show up.  :)

Dress code: generally, it's a bit more formal than the average Coptic parish (in my experience), closer to the standard in an Armenian parish.

Communion: the holy mysteries will be administered either from the paten (intincted morsels) or from the chalice (morsels on a spoon).  They are not administered separately as in the Coptic tradition, but there is water to drink afterwards.  Those receiving Communion prepare in part by participating in the general confession/absolution, which usually takes place immediately prior to the Liturgy, but sometimes also right before Communion.  More rarely, you may see Communion offered not at its proper time in the Liturgy, but after the final blessing (i.e., "Depart in peace..."), either for all the people or for latecomers. 

I don't know what I'd recommend avoiding...if you behave in our church the way you behave in yours, you'll probably be fine.  While our liturgical customs differ, Copts and Indians are very similar in all other ways, for better or worse.  If you have any specific questions, I'll be happy to answer them. 

Offline Nicholas_83

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Mor Ephrem. Thank you. How is the general absolution administered?

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Mor Ephrem. Thank you. How is the general absolution administered?

See this post.

Offline Nicholas_83

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Just out of curiosity how long is the typical liturgy? Are electronic keyboards really as prevalent as they seem to be in qurbana videos online? Are there any liturgical differences between the Syriac Indian church and the autocephalous Malankara Orthodox church?

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Just out of curiosity how long is the typical liturgy?

The Liturgy itself can run between 90-120 minutes.

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Are electronic keyboards really as prevalent as they seem to be in qurbana videos online?

On the one hand, it's rare in my experience to attend a church in North America that doesn't have and use them.  On the other hand, it is not usually as obnoxious as the videos you find online.  That said, it can be. 

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Are there any liturgical differences between the Syriac Indian church and the autocephalous Malankara Orthodox church?

There are some minor differences, but they're not significant.

Offline Nicholas_83

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Thanks for all the answers! Oh, in the US is it usually in Syriac, Malayalam, English or some combo?

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Thanks for all the answers! Oh, in the US is it usually in Syriac, Malayalam, English or some combo?

The dominant language will be either Malayalam or English.  Some Syriac may be used for certain invariable parts to a greater or lesser degree.

Offline rakovsky

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May I ask:
Are there differences between services and customs in Knanaya and Nasrani churches?
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline Mor Ephrem

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May I ask:
Are there differences between services and customs in Knanaya and Nasrani churches?

"Nasrani" is not a particular group like "Knanaya".

The Knanaya Christians have their own customs, though I'm not sure to what extent they affect the liturgical rites.

Offline Nicholas_83

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I look forward to going either way. But curious... Do most commune like in Coptic churches or is it rarer like with Ethiopians?
Also is iconography part of Indian churches?

Offline Mor Ephrem

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I look forward to going either way. But curious... Do most commune like in Coptic churches or is it rarer like with Ethiopians?

It depends, but generally less people commune than in Coptic churches and certainly many more than (what I hear is the norm in) Ethiopian churches.

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Also is iconography part of Indian churches?

Depends on what you mean by "part of".  We have images in our churches and homes and we venerate them, but we have not developed quite the cult of icons as exists, for example, among the Eastern Orthodox, and I think that's a good thing. 

Offline Nicholas_83

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I finally was able to attend qurbana today.
A few thoughts/questions...
Even though it was mostly Malayalam and Syriac the similarity to Coptic liturgy was very clear.

It was held in a chapel at a Lutheran church... Were this in an Orthodox specific building would there have been a curtain or iconostas?

I was able to speak to the priest. There was a general interest in Christian outreach w Asians but not necessarily in sharing Orthodoxy. I was told absolution during service is not normal but a factor of how far away some congregants live. Not surprisingly I was told use of keyboard was Western influence. I noticed a very pronounced waving of the priest's hands at consecration. I was told this indicated the Holy Spirit. However this apparently roots back to pre Christian Brahmin priestly custom.

The division between Malankara and Syrisn Jacobite Orthodox is quite sad. There seemed to some who thought those who followed patriarch in Antioch were not quite Orthodox.

The Oriental Orthodox in the diaspora should be in closer communication. This group does not get to have services more than once or twice a month and until I was visiting afterwards did not know there are Coptic, Armenian,  Ethiopian and Eritrean services locally to attend during the other weeks; even though many wanted to attend more.
Overall it was a great experience.  I am sure I will visit again