Diocese of Krishnagar
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In a land area of 8,640 square kilometers, the diocesan territory, located the central region of India's West Bengal state, covers the two civil districts Nadia and Murshidabad. Major cities are Krishnagar, Berhampur and Kalyani.

Population

In Krishnagar Diocese, the population is 10,030,000 in 2004. (The population of the whole country is about 1.2 billion). Most of the people are lower middle class. The major ethnic groups are Bengalis and Santal tribals. Among the people there is no caste discrimination.

Language

Bengali and Santhali are the languages spoken in the diocese.

History

Augustinians and the Jesuits were the first Catholic missionaries to arrive in this region in the 17th century. They established a centre at Berhampur in 1620. The first Catholic community was formed at Krishnagar by Portuguese Carmelite Father Thomas Zubiburu, who had come there in 1845 from Chittagong. Since Father Zibuburu was forced to withdraw from there due to illness, the municipality took over the chapel he had built and converted it into a dispensary. The Milan Fathers (PIME) arrived to work there in 1855. Father Luigi Limana claimed for that chapel and the catholic community began to group up. Krishnagar was erected into a Prefecture Apostolic on July 19, 1870, with Father Antony Marietti its first Prefect Apostolic. It became a diocese on Sept. 1, 1886, Rev Frances Pozzi becoming its first bishop. He built the present cathedral in 1899, dedicating it to Jesus, the Most Holy Redeemer. When Dinajpur diocese was bifurcated in 1928, the PIME fathers preferred to work in the new diocese, handing Krishnagar diocese to the Salesians (SDB).

Former Prelates are:

  • Rev. Frances Pozzi (1886-1905)
  • Santino Taveggia (1905-1928)
  • Emmanuel Bars SDB (1928-1934)
  • Stephen Fernando SDB (1934-1935)
  • Vincent Scuderi SDB (1935-39)
  • L.R. Morrow SDB (1939 - retired in 1969)
  • Mathew Baroi SDB (1970-1983)
  • Lucas Sircar SDB (1984 - transferred to Kolkata in 2000) 

    Patron of the diocese: The Most Holy Redeemer

    Majority of the Catholics in Nadia district are Bengalis and in Murshidabad district majority are Santals and some are Bengalis.

    Liturgy is held in Bengali for the Bengalis and in Santali for the Santal tribals.

    Thrust of the diocese is on education view a view to holding civil services.

    The diocese is involved in direct preaching to the Hindus and Muslims and there is a good response. It emphasizes on catechetical formation, focusing on inculturation. The diocese also animates the laity through Small Christian Communities (SCC). Though there are a good number of local vocations, many seminarians drop out. Whereas former Salesian Bishop L.R.Morrow founded the Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate, Help of Christians (SMI), former Salesian Bishop Lucas Sirkar has founded the Adoration Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (asihm). Since most of the priests and nuns are young, they are enthusiastic about their work.

    The region enjoys communal harmony.

    Inter-caste marriages between Bengali and Santal tribal Catholics are common.

    It is a vibrant Church, with future hopes. 

Economy

Agriculture and here especially rice, jute, gram (chickpea, a type of beans or pulse) are major crop. The land is fertile. They cultivate 2-3 crops annually. Though no major industries are here, Kalyani is considered the 2nd best industrial city in the state, after Kolkata. There are industries of iron, wood, asbestos etc. Krishnagar, the district headquarter of Nadia, is noted for the architecture of the Catholic Church. It is also famous for the pottery industry.

The Hindu pilgrim centre, Nabadwip, is 19 kms from Krishnagar. Known as the 'Varanasi of Bengal', the numerous temples here attract Hindus from all over the world. Phulia, famous for the tant sarees, is the birthplace of great poet Krittibash, who translated the Sanskrit Ramayana into Bengali.

At Bethuadahari wildlife sanctuary, 34 kms away from Krishnagar, varieties of dears and other animals are found.

Mayapur is the headquarters of ISKCON, the "Hare Krishna" sect known all over the world.

Azimganj is an important Jain pilgrim centre.

The finest example of Bengal's terracotta temples is found at Baranagore. Berhampur, the capital of Murshidabad district, is a sign of the English and Dutch colonial settlements. Barrack field served as the residence of British army and the Indian Sepoy mutiny of 1857 started from here. Cassimbazaar is famous for the hundred pillared palace. An Ashoka Stupa and a Buddhist Vihar have been built in Kamasuma to commemorate Lord Gautama Buddha who had stayed here for seven days. Medina Masjid is an ornamented replica of Hazrat Mohammed's tomb at medina. An Armenian church had been built in 1758 at Saidabad. Around this church are a number of Shaivite temples.