The followers of Jesus Christ are called Christians. Christianity has the largest number of followers in the world. Jerusalem, the place where Christ lived and preached is considered to be the most sacred for Christians all over the world.
Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea in 4.B.C. Until he was 30, Jesus lived in Nazareth as an ordinary carpenter. Then he plugged into a very active public life for about three years. During these years he preached that God is a loving and merciful Father. Jesus insisted only on the necessity of showing our love towards God through loving our fellowmen without any distinction or reservation. He was the setting example for his own preaching. He treated both the sinner and the saint with the utmost love and respect. Jesus became a revolutionary figure among the Jewish religious leaders. They presented Gods as being always demanding, angry and ready to punish. They forced the ruling Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate to crucify and kill Jesus.
But the life of the Jesus did not end with his death on the cross. He rose from the tomb on the third day, thus proclaiming to the world the hope of universal resurrection after death. His disciples realized that Jesus was not an ordinary man, but the "Son of God" who really became man, in order to announce to the world, Gods love and concern for human race. He wanted to bring peace on earth. He strengthened his Apostles with the help of the Holy spirit, to preach his teachings and spread the good news about God the loving father to the entire human race.
Bible, the holy book of the Christians has two parts, namely "The Old Testament" and "The New Testament". The old Testament presents Gods dealing with men before Christ and gives the history of the Jewish people roughly for a period of 2000 years before Christ. The New Testament records the life and preaching of Jesus, his death and resurrection, the growth of Christianity in its early years and the message of the Apostles sent to various churches.
Bible is considered as the holy book of Christians because it is believed that bible was written under the guidance and inspiration of God. The Bible has a collection of 73 books. In 'The Old Testament' 46 books and in 'The New Testament' 27 books.
Christianity in India
India has a positive Kaleidoscope of religions. There is probably more diversity of religions and sects in India than anywhere else in the earth. Christianity is one of the other religions, which completes the vibrant religious mosaic. It is one such religion, which was not originated in India but has a very deep roots spread all across India. According to the legends St. Thomas or Doubting Thomas sailed to India from Eastern Asia in 52 AD. He spent 12 years in India, the last eight of his life in Mylapore in Madras (now Chennai). Several shrines have been created in the places associated with him. Apart from this, the advent of Europeans in India from 15th century onwards led to the mass influx of Christians and subsequent development of Christianity. Some of the churches of the Colonial India are comparable to the best in the world and are as much the heritage of India as the temples of ancient India. Visit these churches and explore the fascinating world of Christianity in India. India has some of the best-known Christian pilgrimage sites. The interesting thing about the Indian Churches is that, they reflect distinct archaeological designs. Here one can see Churches in British style, Portuguese style, French style and of late many Churches according to Indian style were also constructed.
The Christians in India are organized into local communities, regional or provincial bodies and national ones. Most Indian Christians have bishops as their regional head of a diocese and priests are incharge of each parish. According to the different traditions, an archbishop or a moderator or a metropolitan is superior to bishop.
Christians share together basic beliefs which are enshrined in the Bible and in some early texts written by Christian leaders. At the root of all Christian tenets lies the 'Law of Love' according to the command of Christ himself 'Love one another as I have loved you'.
In Christian worship the fountain head of love and dedication is the celebration of the Lord's Supper. 'Eucharist' which means 'thanksgiving service' (Holy Mass) is offered by the priest, in the church, everyday. It is a must for all Christians to attend a mass on every Sunday. In this religious observance the Christians recall with gratitude the supper which Christ had with his disciples on the preceding night of his crucification. Christ asked his Apostles to re-enact that rite, time and again as a remembrance of his wholly dedicated life. During the Holy Mass people also listen to the readings and preachings from the Holy Bible as the part of the rite.
Christian families give importance for their family prayers. All family members take part in the prayer which is said before supper everyday. The Catholics recite rosary (set of beads in the form of a chain), the prayer to Mother Mary is a common practice. Christians also go on pilgrimage to different places.
Some of the Christian pilgrimage are: St. Thomas Cathedral at Mylapore in Madras where the grave of Apostle St. Thomas is venerated; St. Xavier's shrine at Bom Jesus Church at old Goa; the Church of Our Lady of Mount at Bandra, near Bombay; the Church of Our Lady of Health at Vailankanni on the coastal line east of Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu; the Church of Our Lady at Sardhana near Meerut in western Uttar Pradesh, the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary at Bandel, in north of Calcutta; the shrine of St. Xavier at Kottar just north of Kaniyakumari; the Shrine of St. Theresa of Avila at Mahe, close to Tellicherry in North Kerala; at Oriyur in Ramnad district, Tamil Nadu Christians come to venerate the relics and pray to St John de Britto who was martyred there in 1693. In the Orthodox church of Manarkad near Kottayam, Mary's feast is celebrated on September 8 by St. Thomas Christians.