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Christianity came to India in a.d. 52. Twenty years after the crucifixion of Christ, one of his apostles, St. Thomas, is said to have landed on the Malabar Coast, established a few churches and converted a number of local inhabitants in Kerala.

This was the first Christian settlement in the subcontinent – the Syrian Church. Today the ‘Syrian Christians’ (as they are known, owing to their spiritual practices and adoption of the Syrian liturgy) form the oldest Christian community in India.

The Syrian Orthodox Church functions as an autonomous body under its Indian prelate but remains loyal to the spiritual preeminence of the Patriarch of Antioch (the ancient capital of Syria).

Advent of Christianity In India

The 15th century was marked by the advent of the Europeans and the beginning of a slow but sustained missionary activity that gained momentum in the 16th century.

The first church in North India was established in Lahore (now in Pakistan), under the rule of Akbar (1556-1605) the greatest Mughal emperor, known for formulating the Din-i-Illahi (‘Universal Religion’, formulated by combining the salient features of various religions).

Today, India is home to 23 million Christians, 50% of whom live in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Christians constitute 2.3% of India’s total population and form the third most prominent religion in India after Hinduism and Islam.

Christians form a majority of the total population in the eastern states of Mizoram and Nagaland, a third of the population of Goa and a quarter of the population of the coastal state of Kerala. But the influence of Christianity can be seen and felt through the length and breadth of the country.

Biggest Festival of Christians

Christmas is the biggest Christian festival and one of the national festivals of India. It celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th December every year.
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