Christianity in West Bengal
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. 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. Many upper-class Bengalis converted to Christianity during the Bengali renaissance under British Rule, including Krishna Mohan Banerjee, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Anil Kumar Gain, and Gnanendramohan Tagore.
Bengali Christians have made significant contributions to Bengali culture and society. They are considered one of the most progressive communities, and have the highest literacy rate, the lowest male-female sex ratio, along with better socio-economic status. Christian missionaries run major social institutions dealing with Education and Healthcare in the state, such as those by the Jesuit Catholics, and the Protestant Assembly of God and Church of North India.
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. 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).
- Armenian Apostolic Church
- Bengal Orissa Bihar Baptist Convention
- Brethren in Christ Church in India
- Church of God (Anderson)
- Council of Baptist Churches in Northern India
- El Shaddai
- New Life Fellowship Association
- United Missionary Church of India
Notable Bengali Christians
- Harendra Coomar Mookerjee - first Governor of West Bengal after India became a republic, Vice-President of the Constituent Assembly of India
- Reverend Krishna Mohan Banerjee - Bengali philosopher and litterateur, President of the Bengal Christian Association
- Gnanendramohan Tagore - first Asian Barrister in England
- Michael Madhusudan Dutt - famous Bengali poet and dramatist
- Anil Kumar Gain - Bengali Mathematician and Statistician from the University of Cambridge, Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society
- Chandramukhi Basu - first female graduate in India, and the British Empire
- Kali Charan Banerjee - lawyer and theologian, founder of the Calcutta Christo Samaj, member of the Indian National Congress
- Joseph Ghosh - First Indian to be awarded the Doctor of Letters, University of Edinburgh
- Henry Louis Vivian Derozio - Portuguese-Indian poet and educator, Assistant Headmaster of Hindu College (Presidency University)
- Toru Dutt - Bengali poet and writer in English and French
- Mahesh Chandra Ghosh - Bengali philosopher and religious scholar
- Her Highness Suniti Devi - Maharani of the princely state of Koch Bihar, daughter of Keshub Chandra Sen
- Krishna Pal - Bengali evangelist and missionary, first Bengali convert to Christianity under William Carey (missionary)
- Ramtanu Lahiri - renowned educationist and social reformer, leader of the Young Bengal
- Mother Teresa - Nobel Laureate, Christian missionary of Albanian descent and founder of Missionaries of Charity
- Brahmabandhav Upadhyay - journalist, theologian, nationalist freedom fighter
- Puroshottam Choudhary - preacher, evangelist, writer of Christian literature
- Aurobindo Nath Mukherjee - first Indian Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India
- Lal Behari Dey - Indian journalist, writer, and Christian missionary
- Indu Chaterjee - famous Bharata Natyam dancer
- Ashis Nandy - Political psychologist and Social theorist, appeared in the Top 100 Public Intellectuals Poll
- Pritish Nandy - poet, journalist, and media personality, member of the Rajya Sabha
- Arundhati Roy - author and political activist, winner of the Man Booker Prize for her novel The God of Small Things
- Prannoy Roy - renowned journalist, economist, and media personality, co-founder and executive chairperson of NDTV
- Derek O'Brien - Anglo-Indian quiz-master, Member of Parliament for All India Trinamool Congress
- "Proportion and growth rate of population by religious communities, India, 1961-2001" (PDF). National Committee for Minorities. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- Roma Bradnock, Footprint India, Footprint Travel Guides, 2004, ISBN 1-904777-00-7, p. 584.
- World Christian Encyclopedia , Second edition, 2001 Volume 1, p. 368-371
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