Portal:Christianity in India

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THE CHRISTIANITY in INDIA PORTAL

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Christianity in India is the third-largest religion in that nation, following Hinduism and Islam. Abrahamic religions on the whole date back about 2500 years with the arrival of Judaism, followed by the arrival of Christianity around 2000 years ago.

Christianity is believed to have come to India in two main periods, the first century missionary activity of Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, and the Western missionary activities from 1500 to 1975. Vasco da Gama, seeking pre-existing Christian colonies in India, discovered a sea route to India by circumnavigating the Cape of Good Hope which caused a major influence on both the histories of Asia and Europe.

The total official number of Christians in India as per Census in 2001 are 24,080,016 or 2.34% of the population. There are three main regional concentrations of Christian population, namely in Malabar Coast, on the Konkan Coast, and among tribal people in East, Central, and North-East India. The states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh account for 60% of India's total Christian population. The Christian churches run thousands of educational institutions and hospitals contributing significantly to the development of the nation.

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Maramon Mar Thoma Church (2005)
Malankara Church of India is the Christian church believed to be started by St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ. Maliankara, a place near Muziris, (now known as Pattanam, near Cochin on the Malabar Coast), where Thomas the Apostle first landed in Kerala in AD 52, was the headquarters of the Indian Christian church from the 1st century AD. It is also known as Church of Malabar or Malabar Church. Hence the Christians here are known as Malankara Nazarenes , Saint Thomas Christians, Malabar Christians and Malankara Christians. The history of Indian Christianity hence started 15 centuries even before the arrival of European missionaries in India.

According to tradition, it was on a trading vessel plying between Alexandria and the Malabar Coast that St. Thomas the Apostle arrived in Kodungallur or Cranganore (കൊടുങ്ങല്ലൂര്‍)in AD 52. Modern developments in archaeology, anthropology, numismatics, toponymy, geography and trade route investigations have revealed evidence of the trading which forms the background to the St. Thomas tradition of Kerala. Maliankara was the headquarters of the Church of Malabar from the 1st century. (Malankara is cognate of Maliankara) and hence the church was known as the Malankara Church.

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Administrative map of Goa.png
Credit: Nichalp

Roman Catholicism reached Goa during the period of European colonisation, which began in 1498 when the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived on the Malabar coast. With the establishment of Goa Inquisition in 1560, a large section of the population became Roman Catholic.

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Henry Martyn.jpg
Henry Martyn (18 February 1781 - 16 October 1812), was an Anglican priest and missionary to the peoples of India and Persia. Born in Truro, Cornwall, he was educated at St John's College, Cambridge. A chance encounter with Charles Simeon led him to become a missionary. He was ordained a priest in the Church of England and became a chaplain for the British East India Company.

Martyn arrived in India in April 1806, where he preached and occupied himself in the study of linguistics. He translated the whole of the New Testament into Urdu, Persian and Judaeo-Persic. He also translated the Psalms into Persian and the Book of Common Prayer into Urdu. From India, he set out for Bushire, Shiraz, Isfahan, and Tabriz. On is way to Constantinople, Martyn was seized with fever, and, though the plague was raging at Tokat, he was forced to stop there, unable to continue. On 16 October 1812 he died. He was remembered for his courage, selflessness and his religious devotion. In parts of the Anglican Communion he is celebrated with a Lesser Festival on 19 October.

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