Christianity in West Bengal

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The Bandel Church, rebuilt in 1660 on the site of an older 1599 church.
St. Andrew's Church, Darjeeling. Built: 1843, Rebuilt: 1873

Christianity in West Bengal, India is a minority. At the 2001 census, there were 515,150 Christians in West Bengal, or 0.6% of the population.[1] Among the Scheduled Tribes, the percentage was 6.1%.[2] Although Mother Teresa worked in Kolkata (Calcutta), Christianity is a minority in Kolkata as well. West Bengal has the highest number of Bengali Christians. Bengali Christians have been established since the 16th century with the advent of the Portuguese in Bengal. Bengali Christians are mostly members of one of a few clans (e.g. Das and Hansda); they use Bengali translated Bibles and prayers.


It has been present since the 16th century. The Portuguese established a settlement in Bandel, Hooghly district in the 16th century, and Bandel Church, perhaps the first church in West Bengal, was built in 1599.[3] Burnt down during the sacking of Hooghly in 1632, the church was rebuilt in 1660. The followers of Christianity mainly settled in Barddhmann, Bankura, Kolkata and Hooghly district of West Bengal.

William Carey, who founded the Baptist Missionary Society, went to India in 1793 and worked as a missionary in the Danish colony of Serampore, because of opposition from the British East India Company. He translated the Bible into Bengali (completed 1809) and Sanskrit (completed 1818). His first Bengali convert was Krishna Pal, who renounced his caste after conversion. In 1818, Serampore College was founded to train local converts for the ministry.


St. Paul's Cathedral, Kolkata is the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Calcutta (1813) of the Church of North India. The Roman Catholic ecclesiastical province which has its seat in West Bengal is the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta (1834).

Other denominations:[4]


  1. ^ "Proportion and growth rate of population by religious communities, India, 1961-2001". National Committee for Minorities. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "West Bengal". Census of India 2001. Office of the Registrar General, India. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Roma Bradnock, Footprint India, Footprint Travel Guides, 2004, ISBN 1-904777-00-7, p. 584.
  4. ^ World Christian Encyclopedia , Second edition, 2001 Volume 1, p. 368-371