General Characteristics of the Diocese
The diocesan territory stretches over 4,570 square kilometers and covers the Jashpur civil district of the newly formed Chhattisgarh state in central India. The diocese is in the northeastern region of Chhattisgarh state, with the newly formed Jharkhand state and Orissa state as its neighbors. There are 4 tehsils (administrative units) in the diocese. Major towns are Bagicha, Jashpur Nagar, Kunkuri and Pathalgaon.
In Jashpur diocese, the total population was 743,160 at the end of 2001. (The population of the whole country is more than 1 billion). Most residents are aboriginals such as Oraons and Kharias. In the towns there are dalits (former "untouchables"), and backward, business and upper-caste communities.
Economy, major trades, sites
Villagers cultivate mostly paddy, with one crop a year. They also work in the jungle, in government projects or in the village. There are many ancient temples and caves in the region.
The Catholic cathedral at Kunkuri is the biggest church in the state.
The phoolon ki ghati (valley of flowers), which is about 15 kilometers away from Jashpur Nagar is famous for its scenic beauty and flowers. There is also a waterfall about 19 kilometers away from Jashpur Nagar.
38% (male: 51%; female: 25.6%)
Languages used in the diocese are English, Chhattisgarhi, Hindi, Kharia, Oraon and Sadri.
|Some tribal Catholic villagers at Sarjhula|
Until 1905, no Catholic priest was allowed entry into this region by the feudal rulers.
Since 1905, there has been a strong movement toward Christianity among the tribal Oraons of the Jashpur state. The feudal rulers were unable to crush this movement and thousands of the tribals got baptized from the Belgian Jesuit missioners in neighboring Ranchi diocese.
The first priest here was allowed to build a hut for himself in 1912 at Ginabahar.
Four missions were later opened with great difficulty. These provided pastoral and educational services to aboriginals.
After the nation's independence in 1947, the feudal rulers' states merged into India, and the Indian Constitution provided the tribals with freedom of religion. This helped in the advancement of missionary activities, though with great difficulty.
Raigarh diocese was erected on Dec. 13, 1951, by the carving up of neighboring Ranchi and Nagpur dioceses.
The civil Jashpur district was bifurcated from Raigarh diocese to form Jashpur diocese on March 24, 2006. Bishop Victor Kindo of Raigarh was transferred to Jashpur as its first bishop.
Jashput diocese has the highest number of Catholics in Chhattisgarh state.
Many Oraon tribals have become Christians and have progressed in life through missioners' social development program, especially through their schools and hostels. Many of them hold key positions in the government and non-government agencies, both in the state and outside of it.
Due to this, anti-Christian elements are very strong in the region, and missioners and Catholics are harassed. Since the state's anti-conversion legislation forbids religious conversion, many legal cases have been filed in the court against missioners. The country's law forbids non-tribals purchasing tribal land.
Since the Catholic population is centered in Jashpur district, the bishop's house and cathedral are located at Kunkuri, a town, about 45 km south of Jashpur Nagar.
In December 2005, the diocese started celebrating the centenary of the coming of Christianity.
Patroness of the diocese: Our Lady of the Rosary