Power of faith

The Syrian Christian community in the city today has

five churches and a parish of over 1000 families

When Jesus Christ set out to preach, he had 12 apostles who spread his word and Christianity along with it. It is believed that St Thomas, one of the apostles, came to India in 52 AD, and established the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Since then, the members of this church in India, who call themselves Syrian Christians, have made Kerala their home. Many centuries later, in 1912, the church saw the establishment of the Catholicate or the Apostolic Throne of St Thomas at Catholicate Aramana, Kottayam in Kerala.

"The Indian Church entered into a close relationship with a similar church in East Syria. From them, we inherited their language and liturgies and gradually came to be known as Syrian Christians," says Pothen Varghese, treasurer of the managing committee of the St Thomas Church at Khadki. Today, the Syrian Christians are one of the strongest Christian sects in the city.

Interestingly, World War II had a major part to play in their migration to the north. "The second World War caused the establishment of three cantonments and a number of government offices in Pune, which in turn opened many avenues. Syrian Christians were some of the first people who came to the city for employment and later settled down," says Varghese. Today, they have five churches in the city at Khadki, Hadapsar, Chinchwad, Bhosari and Vishrantwadi and a parish of over a thousand families. The largest church, with 800 families, is the St Thomas Church at Khadki.

The Syrian Christians consider themselves the only original Christians in India. "All other sects are a result of conversions by missionaries and zealots in later years. Our community was established by StThomas, who was an apostle of Christ," says Mohan John, a member of the community.

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