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Christianity in Kerala

Updated on March 30, 2017
C.S.I. Church, Kozhikode
C.S.I. Church, Kozhikode

With 19% of the total population, Christianity is the third most practiced religion in Kerala. In India, Christian representation is more in the state.

See the Table below detailing the features of population of the three main religions.

District with Highest Population
Dist. with Lowest Population
Decadal Population Growth
- 1.48
+ 1.70
- 0.32

19% of the Kerala population are Christians. It roughly means one out of five Keralites are Christians! Their population is 6,057,427. The highest Christian concentration is in Ernakulam and the lowest in Malappuram district. Amusingly, Malappuram has the largest population of Muslims. The decadal population of both Hindus and Christians show a negative trend. (Hindus: -1.48 and Christians: -0.32 growth). At the same time, the total population growth of Muslims shows an alarming increase of +1.70. When Hindus and Christians adopt a two children policy, Muslims prefer to have more children on religious sentiments. The Hindus and Christians have now even shifted to one child policy.

Out of the total 14 districts in Kerala, except Malappuram (Muslim dominated) Hindus are the majority in all other districts. Though Christians with a population of 6,057,427 remain in 3rd place, they are not a majority in any of the districts. Their main concentration is in Ernakulam but behind Hindus.

The community has contributed richly towards the overall progress and developments of the state. They have done tremendous work for the impressive achievements of Kerala in the fields of education, healthcare, poverty alleviation, infrastructures and social upliftment of the whole society.

The educational institutions, hospitals, etc., established and run by the Christian managements are of high standards and in great demand for its excellence in quality. The Christians are richer in almost all fields when compare with the other community. They are said to be relatively affluent too.

Their hard work has resulted in the growth of Kerala's agricultural sector largely. A good number of Christians are in Medical field as Doctors, Nurses and Technicians. Many of them have migrated to the Europe and the USA and thus supporting the Kerala economy too.

St. Thomas
St. Thomas


St. Thomas, who landed at Malankara, near Cranganore (now Kodungallur) in the year 52 AD is considered the Father of Christianity in India. He preached Christianity first among the Jews. Later he converted some Brahmins (Hindu Upper Caste) into Christianity. He also founded seven Churches at various places in Kerala.

After the discovery of Sea route to India by Vasco de Gama in 1498, the flow of the European missionaries increased and intense activities (including conversion) began. Also, because of the British invasion and resultant colonialism by the 17thcentury, many missionaries from Europe reached the state and Christianity started to flourish on this soil. Like Islam, Christianity too propagated in Kerala and it is believed that the religion spread to other parts of India from Kerala.

Today, the community in Kerala is divided into different denominations. They can be classified under three major groups-Catholics, Orthodox and Protestant. Also, there are a few more Dioceses of other Protestant denominations like the Church of South India (CSI).

Church on Backwaters-Alleppey (Alappuzha)
Church on Backwaters-Alleppey (Alappuzha)

I am proud to reveal that my city (Kozhikode/Calicut) has an old CSI Church. This ancient Church is one of the major attractions there. The CSI Hall, CSI Shopping Complex, B.E.M. (Basal Evangelical Mission) School and Kurisupally all are the glowing symbols of vibrant Christianity of Kerala. These add a special charm to the already beautiful Mananchira Square built in the heart of the Kozhikode city.

Vallarpadam Church, Ernakulam
Vallarpadam Church, Ernakulam
Click thumbnail to view full-size
It is time to cheers too.  People rush to buy their bottle of Spirit! A large consumption of  Alcohol takes place during Christmas holidays.
It is time to cheers too.  People rush to buy their bottle of Spirit! A large consumption of  Alcohol takes place during Christmas holidays.
It is time to cheers too. People rush to buy their bottle of Spirit! A large consumption of Alcohol takes place during Christmas holidays.
A church on the banks of Alappuzha back waters
A church on the banks of Alappuzha back waters
One of the oldest Churches in Kozhikode built by the Portugese
One of the oldest Churches in Kozhikode built by the Portugese
The English Church, Nadakkavu, Kozhikode
The English Church, Nadakkavu, Kozhikode

© 2012 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth


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