Christianity in Banaras : A mapping of Christian congregations and case study on two Catholic churches

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Institutionen för samhälls- och kulturvetenskap

Abstract: Christians are a small minority group in India. There are previous studies on the group, but mainly focused on regions where Christianity is well represented, like for example Tamil Nadu in South India. This study will focus on an uncharted Christian area. The city of Banaras in the Indian state Uttar Pradesh is one of the most prominent holy cities of Hinduism. But there are also Christian congregations. Some are more established, some are less. This study is an attempt to map the Christian population in Banaras and present material that could be used for future research. The material is analysed with theories of space, which reveals several spaces that are claimed by Christianity. The Christian community in Banaras is composed of many different congregations, showing different features of local particularities worthy of further studies. In the city, Protestant congregations are scattered in smaller fractions while the Catholic parish shows a more well-established organization. Looking closer at two Catholic churches, a case-study focus on ground-level local particularities of the Catholic Church in the city. Together with theories on Theology of religions and Indian religious practice the case study provides a glimpse of the local expression of Catholic church interior and practice. The results describe a church shaped by the general, Catholic organization, the history of Christianity and Catholicism in India, together with the local context, shapes a well-established parish in a predominantly Hindu city. Together with the wider overview on Christianity, the results provide an image of Christianity in Banaras that shows several interesting characteristics in spatial claims and establishment. This could be an addition to future research to an understanding of interreligious relations and minority religions on a local level in a world shaped by globalization.

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