Friday, September 18, 2009

Christianity in India : Facts and figures

Around 25 million Christians live in India nowadays (2.5% of the population), making it India’s 3rd religious group after Hindu and Muslims.
Christianity arrived in India almost about the same period as it arrived in Europe, meaning about 2000 years ago. St. Thomas preached in India, he arrived in Kerala in south India in 52 AD. The first Christian converts there where called Syrian Christians.
The second wave of Christianization happened with the Portuguese settlers. The Portuguese brought the Roman Catholicism to India; they were mainly in the region of Goa. The Portuguese also converted local Syrian Christians into Roman Catholicism.
The third wave of evangelization was conducted with the British. It was in the 1800s that British Anglican missionaries started preaching in India.
The missionaries didn’t only spread Christianity, but they also did humanitarian deeds giving the needy basic necessities of life like food, clothes and shelter. The missionaries also built schools in India and many of them even today have Christian or European originated name.
The major centers of Christianity in India are Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Manipur and Mizoram. There is also a big community of Christians in Mumbai. The main division of Christians in India is like in the Christian world, Protestants and Catholic. There are also different denomination among them, Syrian Church, Armenian Church, Anglican Church and others.
Historically, Hindus and Christians have lived in relative peace since the arrival of Christianity in India from the early part of the first millennium. Driven by some extremists from both sides , many Indian states are seeing clashes between the different religious groups. Some Indian states (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu (later repealed) mainly) went to the extreme passing laws restricting or prohibiting religious conversion.

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