Rebels and Outcasts: A Journey Through Christian India by Charlie Pye-Smith (Penguin paperback, pounds 7.99)
Sunday 20 September 1998
by Charlie Pye-Smith (Penguin paperback, pounds 7.99)
Setting out to find the Christians with an "Asian face" in places such as Simla, Pune, Delhi, Goa and Kerala, Pye-Smith successfully describes a colourful assemblage of personalities which make up the living institution of Christian India.
In India, not even one in 200 is Christian. Those who have switched to Christianity have not always had an easy time of it. For example, while Hindu Dalits, the former "untouchables", are able to take advantage of the government's policy of positive discrimination in the job market, Christian Dalits often cannot.
Indian Christians do not always treat their fellow Christians with brotherly love. In the 19th century, Indian Christians who wished to worship at Christchurch in Simla, a church frequented during the summer by the British Raj, were often turned away by people hired to stop Indians of insufficient social standing from entering the church.
Despite the unequal treatment received by poorer or lower caste Christians, many communities that Pye-Smith interviews still cling to their Christianity. Poor Catholic fishermen from Vizhinjam, despite their poverty and persecution from their Muslim neighbours, insist on building a church tower as an expression of their collective faith.
Syrian Christians are often justifiably condemned for their contempt of Christian Dalits. In Trivandrum, Kerala, Syrian Christians attend a separate church as they refuse to belong to a local diocese whose members come from the low-caste Nadar and the Dalit communities. He also describes the Syrian Christian Mar Thoma Church in Tiruvella, Kotayam, with 15,000 Dalit members and a mandate that states that a quarter of all jobs within the church are reserved for Dalit members. Through research, Pye-Smith is able to describe the individual characteristics of various sects, thus avoiding dangerous stereotypes.
Pye-Smith verges on proselytising on occasion. At one point he attributes the peaceful expression on a women's face to "the peace of God which passeth all understanding". But these lapses are few, leaving readers impressed with the eclectic and inspirational array of individuals.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Scientists create transparent mouse complete with see-through organs
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 Amazonian Indian tribe filmed making contact with Brazil village in rare video footage
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- < Previous
- Next >
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...
£23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...