Diocese of Jhabua
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In a land area of 21,366 square kilometers the diocesan territory covers the districts of Jhabua, Alirajpur, Ratlam, Mandsaur and Neemuch and Sardarpur Tahshil of Dhar District.

Jhabua is a tribal district located on the western part of Madhya Pradesh bordering Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Situated on the National Highway connecting Indore and Ahmedabad, it is 155 kilometers from Indore and 264 kilometers from Ahmedabad. Delhi-Bombay railway line also passes through Jhabua district with a railhead at Meghnagar.

Population

Jhabua district has 1,231 villages. 86 percent of the total population of the district consists of tribals. The villages are inhabited by tribals namely Bhils, Bhilalas and Patlias. The tribals live in scattered clusters with huts mostly in or adjacent to their own fields. The houses are mostly made of bamboo and clay. The roofs are low thatched type. The huts have small front door which is mostly about 1.21 meters in height and 0.90 meters in width. Windows are a very rare thing. The huts usually have one or two partitions. One of the partition is used for keeping the cattle inside because of the high risk of robbery. The families are both nuclear and joint. Wood is the main fuel used for cooking. Awareness towards clean and healthy living is mostly missing. Disposal of garbage is near the house. Toilets are rare in the villages. Though the main source of light is electricity, there are still many villages which are not electrified. The main source of water is wells, hand-pumps, tubewells, rivers and streams.

Language

Languages spoken are Hindi, Bhili and Bhilali.

History

Catholic Diocese of Jhabua was established on March 25, 2002 by bifurcating the Catholic Diocese of Indore and Diocese of Udaipur, with Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal SVD as its first Bishop. The diocese comprises of 5 civil districts of western Madhya Pradesh bordering the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. The first parish in the district of Jhabua was started in 1896 at Thandla.

Till the new Diocese of Jhabua was formed, all the above activities were taken care of by the Diocese of Indore and Udaipur.

Patron of the diocese is Blessed Virgin Mary; Feast of Annunciation March 25.

Economy

The main occupation of the tribals is agriculture. Almost all are landowners though their landholdings are very small. It is because of their large family resulting in division of land generation after generation. The percentage of irrigated land is very low. The main crops in the region are maize, soyabean, pulses, wheat and cotton. The land is undulated and soil is of very poor quality. They depend mostly on monsoon rains for farming. Because of the poor monsoon and poor soil conditions, their economic status remains very low and their only source of income is agriculture. This has led to increase in the number of people migrating every year for a period of about eight months to the cities in search of work.

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