Jaipur diocese is in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan. Jaipur is the state capital.
The diocese's land area of 129,060 square kilometers covers 12 civil districts: Jaipur, Alwar, Bikaner, Churu, Dausa, Hanumangarh, Jhunjhunu, Karauli, Nagaur, Sawaimadhopur, Sikar and Sriganganagar.
Jaipur is known as the pink city, because many buildings were built with pink stones. It is a tourist centre. King Sawai Jai Singh II built the city 1727 in accordance with ancient Hindu architecture. Jaipur district is the most populated district in Rajasthan.
Rajasthan means place (sthan) of kings (raja). The land is known for its chivalry and magnificent palaces. The customs, costumes, culture, music and dialects have an unusual diversity.
Most people belong to the middle class. Many also belong to tribal, dalit (formerly called "untouchable") and designated "backward" communities.
Hindi, Marwarhi & English are the main languages spoken.
Christian presence in Jaipur goes back to the 18th century, when Father Emmanuel de Figuredo was sent here at the invitation of Maharaja (king) Sawai Jai Singh II, who built Jaipur city in 1727. Pedro de Silva, the first lay Catholic to settle in Jaipur, accompanied the priest.
Maharaja Sawai Man Singh gifted some land and generously contributed to the building of Sacred Heart Church at Ghat Gate in 1871. The first resident priest in Jaipur was Capuchin Father Conrad.
In 1890, the Rajaputana and Malwa missions were created, taken from the territory of Agra diocese. In 1891, this new mission was made into an apostolic prefecture, with Capuchin Father Bertram as its apostolic prefect. The prefecture then had five mission stations, including Jaipur, with five priests.
From 1913, the area came under the Diocese of Ajmer, renamed the Diocese of Ajmer-Jaipur in 1955. In 1986, seven civil districts of the diocese were entrusted to the Fathers of the Congregation of St Theresa (CST). On July 20, 2005, the Diocese of Jaipur was created, separate from Ajmer. Bishop Oswald Joseph Lewis, then coadjutor bishop of Meerut, was installed as its first bishop on Aug. 28, 2005.
The Catholics in Jaipur diocese are only 4,265 amid a population of 25,828,271 (0.016 percent) in 25 parishes and mission stations. The diocese has only 13 diocesan priests. To fulfill the need, five diocesan priests of other dioceses are borrowed to minister here. There are no local vocations yet. To encourage more men to join the priesthood, a minor seminary was started recently. The average age of priests is about 35 years. 20 Religious priests serve here too.
Jaipur Diocese does not aggressively pursue religious conversion and is engaged in welfare programs. No tensions have arisen with members of other religions (predominantly Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Jains) or the government.
The diocese has many migrant, employed Catholics from southern India and a few local converts belonging to backward communities. Most of the Catholics live in the towns. Though most of the parishes have been built in towns, the diocese is entering into village missions.
Besides pastoral care of its Catholics, the diocese is involved in the education, medical and social welfare apostolates.
Today the area is experiencing all round development in education, industry and agriculture. Many universities have been established, and Alwar is fast emerging as a major industrial town, while Bikaner is well known for its wool industry and Jaipur for gems and jewelry. In the agricultural sector, people cultivate wheat, bajra, jowar and maize.
The diocesan territory is blessed with natural beauty and abundant natural resources, as well as a rich culture and heritage. Indologists have traced the antiquity of this wonderland back to the early stone age. Many foreign tourists frequent this area. It has an enormous wealth of minerals such as iron, copper, manganese. It also has non-metallic minerals like silica sand, china clay and mica.
This exotic land is also known for its arts and handicrafts -- be it jewelry, painting, metalwork, hand-printed textiles, leather crafts, pottery or wood carving. Bikaner district excels in painted pottery, Jaipur is famous for marble statues and Alwar produces paper-thin kagzi pottery.
The area supports a wide spectrum of wildlife and attracts many migratory birds. While Ranthambhor has a famous national park, Jamwa Ramgarh in Jaipur is known for its wildlife sanctuary.
The lofty hills of Aravali, one of the oldest mountain ranges of the world, and the golden sand dunes of the Great Indian desert - the only desert of the subcontinent -- lie in Rajasthan. The western part of the state touches the international boundary with Pakistan.
The region is also known for its folk music, folk musical instruments and folk musicians. During festival time, colorfully dressed women adorned with their best jewelry and men with exotic turbans join the celebrations. The region is also famous for dancing, singing, drama, devotional music and puppet shows. Besides cattle fairs, Jaipur hosts a famous elephant festival and Bikaner a camel festival.