Gujarat, ‘The Land of the Legends’, also known as the ‘Jewel of the West’ stands bordered by Pakistan and Rajasthan in the north east, Madhya Pradesh in the east, and Maharashtra and the Union territories of Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli in the south. The Arabian Sea borders the state both to the west and the south west.
The State took its name from the Gujjars, who ruled the area during the 700’s and 800’s. Gujarat is a home to incredible diversity due to its geographic and strategic location. Its Gujarati pride and rich cultural heritage is reflected in the arts, music, literature, religious traditions, cuisine, fairs and festivals of every city and place.
On May 1, 1960, Gujarat was created out of 17 northern districts of the former state of Bombay. ‘G’ is said to be synonymous for ‘Growth’ and for ‘Gujarat’
Recently world’s tallest statue-” Statue of Unity”- was opened in River Narmada, near Baroda (200kms from Surat) by Hon PM, Shri Narendra Modi as a memorial to late Shri Sardar Vallabhai Patel
Gandhinagar is the State Capital of Gujarat. Named after ‘Gandhi’, the father of the nation, it is situated 32 kms away from Ahmedabad and is proudly the best planned city in India.
Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda, Rajkot are some major cities of Gujarat which have been located to have the best of tradition, history, architecture, culture and philosophy of Gujarat in an atmosphere of luxury, beauty and comfort.
The social life comprises various languages, customs, festivals, celebrations, costumes, food habits and dwellings of people living in different regions of Gujarat. The cultural edifice has been built in Gujarat due to its geographical, social, religious and occupational diversity. The humble natured, persevering and hard working .Guajarati’s residing in its cities, towns and villages have expanded their economy and business ventures not only in Gujarat but all over India and the rest of the world.
The 2001 Gujarat earthquake, also known as the Bhuj earthquake, occurred on 26 January; India’s 52nd Republic Day and lasted for over 2 minutes.
The intra plate earthquake reached 7.7 on the moment magnitude scale and had a maximum felt intensity The earthquake killed between 13,805 and 20,023 people, injured another 167,000 and destroyed nearly 400,000 homes
Gujarat has an estimated population of 63.8 million, up from 60.4 million in 2011. The population density is 308 km2 lower than other Indian states, whereas in Kerala it is 860
Gujarat is diverse in terms of religion. 89% of the population is Hindu, followed by Islam (9%), Jainism (1%), Christianity (0.5%), Sikhism (0.2%) and Buddhism (0.1%).
Gujarati people form the majority of the population. The Gujaratis are an Indian ethnic group that speaks Gujarati, with famous Gujaratis including Mahatma Gandhi and Virchand Gandhi. Interestingly, most Gujarati outside of India live in the United States, with more than 100,000 in the New York City area.
Biharis (an Indo-Aryan ethnic group from the current state of Bihar) and Marwaris (originally from the Rajasthan region of the country) are large minorities in the state, with smaller groups include Punjabis, Malayalees, Tibetans, Jews, Greeks, Armenians, Anglo-Indians, Tamils, South Koreans, Portuguese, Nepalese and Bengali.
The largest city is Ahmedabad, which is also the former capital of the state. Ahmedabad has a population of more than 5.8 million with a metropolitan population of 6.3 million, which makes it the 5th largest city and 7th largest metropolitan area in India. Ahmedabad was recently ranked as one of the fastest-growing cities of the decade. Ahmedabad has a population density of 31,000 people per square mile, or 12,000 per square kilometer.
Surat is the second most populous city in the state with an estimated population of 4.8 million. Also known as the “City of Flowers,” Surat is about 306 kilometers south of the capital on the Tapti River. Surat is the 8th largest city and 9th largest metropolitan area in the country.
Vadodara, or Baroda, is the 3rd largest city in Gujarat after Ahmedabad and Surat. In 2014, Vadodara has a population of 2.06 million, which is the 20th largest in India. Vododara has a population density of 36,000 people per square mile, or 14,000 per square kilometer
• Ahmedabad was ranked as the best place to live in India by The Times of India in 2012.
• Mahatma Gandhi was born in Gujarat.
• Gujarat has the longest sea shore of any Indian state.
• Gujarat is home to the highest number of vegetarians in the country.
• Gujarat has the lowest crime rate in India, and the lowest crime rate against women.
• One in 5 Indian Americans is a Gujarati, compared to 1 in 20 Indians.
• Five Railway stations in Gujarat — Gandhidham, Jamnagar, Surat, Rajkot and Ankleshwar– are among the top 10 cleanest stations in India
• Ahmedabad -per capita income is twice that of the rest of India and one among the top 20 fastest growing cities in the world
Hinduism is the major religion of the state, as about 89% population of the state is Hindu. Muslims are the biggest minority in the state accounting for 9.5% of the population. Christians account for 0.52% Gujarat has the third-largest population of Jains in India, following Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
Large numbers of economic migrants from Rajasthan, Bihar, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra, Punjab etc. have flocked to the state in recent decades seeking employment and higher standards of living.
The three main sources of growth in Gujarat’s agriculture are from cotton production, the rapid growth of high-value foods such as livestock, fruits and vegetables, and from wheat production. Other major produce includes bajra, groundnut, cotton, rice, maize, wheat, mustard, sesame, pigeon pea, green gram, sugarcane, mango, banana, sapota, lime, guava, tomato, potato, onion, cumin, garlic, isabgul and fennel. Whilst, in recent times, Gujarat has seen a high average annual growth of 9% in the agricultural sector, the rest of India has an annual growth rate of around 3%.
The State is rich in calcite, gypsum, manganese, lignite, bauxite, limestone, agate,
feldspar, and quartz sand, and successful mining of these minerals is done in their specified areas. Jamnagar is the hub for manufacturing brass parts. Gujarat produces about 98% of India’s required amount of soda ash, and gives the country about 78% of the national requirement of salt. It is one of India’s most prosperous states, having a per-capita GDP significantly above India’s average. Kalol, Khambhat, and Ankleshwar are today known for their oil and natural gas production. Dhuvaran has a thermal power station, which uses coal, oil, and gas. Also, on the Gulf of Khambhat, 50 kilometres (31 mi) southeast of Bhavnagar, is the Alang Ship Recycling Yard (the world’s largest). General Motors manufactures its cars at Halol near Vadodara, Tata Motors manufactures the Tata Nano from Sanand near Ahmedabad, and AMW trucks are made near Bhuj. Major industrial giants like Tata, Aditya Birla, Reliance, L&T, Essar, Shell, Adani etc had their strong presence in Gujarat.
Surat, a city by the Gulf of Khambhat, is a hub of the global diamond trade. Around 90% of the world’s diamonds were cut and polished in Surat.
Malayali Community in Gujarat
About 25 lakhs Keralites are in Gujarat. They are mainly based at Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Bharuch, Ankleswar, Bhuj, Jamnagar, Gandhinagar, Vapi, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Valsad, Daman, Gandhidham, Veravel, Porbander, Hazira, Halol, Kalol, Mundra, Mehsana etc. Most of them are working in industries either as employees or contractors. Large numbers of people do their own business or are in Govt Service., hospitals end educational institutions
Federation of Gujarat Malayalee Associations (FEGMA) was established on 27th July, 1997 at Vadodara coordinating various Kerala Samajams in Gujarat. Kerala Samajam has its own school in Surat
Surat is estimated to have more than 30000 Keralites. There are Orthodox, Marthomite, Jacobite Latin Catholic, Syro Malabar, Syro Malankara, Pentecostal, Brethren denominations of Christian Community. There is an Ayyappa Temple in Surat for Hindu devotees
Christianity in Gujarat
Christianity is a minority religion in Gujarat. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Ahmedabad, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Gandhinagar, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baroda, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Rajkot and the Orthodox Diocese of Ahmedabad have their seat in the state
The Jesuits were entrusted with the mission in 1893. They have been instrumental in the birth and growth of the mission which has led to the formation of an acculturated local Church in Gujarat.
The Commander of the Mughal army in Ahmedabad called the Jesuits there in 1612-13. The Ahmedabad Mission was started in 1892 based on a missionary encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1892.
During the second half of the 17th century, mission work was started in Surat. The town and harbour were occupied first by the Portuguese, followed by the Marathas, the Mughals, the Dutch, the French and finally by the English. The Jesuit pioneers were later replaced by the French Capuchins.
Later more and more mission centres were established in Anand (1896), Vadtal (1897), Karamsad (1907), Nadiad (1911) and Amod (1912).
The Fifties and Sixties saw further growth and consolidation of the mission. During the Sixties, Jesuit missionaries expanded their mission from Kheda to the tribal areas of South Gujarat. Now it is a flourishing mission which has expanded to more than fifteen mission centres and parishes with boarding houses for boys and girls as well as excellent high schools.
The region of South Gujarat comprising the civil districts of Panchamahals, Baroda, Bharuch, Surat, Valsad and Dangs was separated from the Bombay Jesuit Province and entrusted to the Gujarat Jesuit Province in 1956, while remaining at the same time ecclesiastically under the Bombay Archdiocese. Subsequently, in 1966, this area was separated from the Bombay Archdiocese and made into the Baroda Diocese, with Mgr. Ignatius D’Souza as its first Bishop. The Jesuits who were entrusted with the mission of the whole of Gujarat, in 1973, bifurcated the Saurashtra region from the Ahmedabad Diocese, and entrusted it to the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate and the new Diocese of Rajkot was formed with Mgr. Jonas Thaliath, C.M.I. as its first Bishop.
In 1987, Francis Braganza, SJ (1922-2011) became the second Bishop of Baroda. When he retired in 1997, Godfrey Rozario SJ, the then provincial of Gujarat Jesuits became the third Bishop of Baroda.
On November 11, 2002, Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, was established as an Archiepiscopal See. A Diocese of Gujarat of the Church of North India exists. The Methodist Church , CNI ,The Salvation Army and other Pentecostal denominations also have their presence.
Malankara Community in Surat
Malankara Community in Surat is widely spread around the span of 35-40 kms. Disregarding the geographical dispersion, they used to regularly gather to worship and attend Latin or Syro Malabar mass at the only one Mount Carmel Church at Nanpura. Subsequently Mary Matha Church was formed in 2000 near Bhestan, Surat.
Some of the members of the community made a request to Very Rev Fr Dr John Berchmans, OIC who was the ETRI ( Extra Territorial Regions of India) coordinator to unite the people and to have Malankara Mass. As a true and enthusiastic gospel, Rev Fr Berchmans, OIC acceded to the requests and took pain to visit Surat in 1998 and thanks to his earnest efforts; the first Malankara Mass was celebrated on 3rd Aug, 1988. Inspired by the spirit of the Malankarites in Surat, Rev Fr requested HE Bishop Geevarghese Mar Divannasios, Diocese of Bathery to depute priests to unify and develop mission in Gujarat, especially in Surat. Based on this Rev Fr Mathew Perumpallikunnel of Bathery Diocese was appointed as the priest-in-charge of Malankara Mission in Gujarat. Holy Mass was celebrated in the evening Sundays at Mount Carmel Catholic Church, Nanpura, Surat
With earnest financial support from Bathery, Tiruvalla & Trivandrum Diocese, in 2001 plot of land admeasuring almost 2.5 acres was purchased in Pandesara close to Udhna –Sachin highway. A nursery school was started under the leadership and guidance of Holy Spirit Sisters. Subsequent to the transfer of Rev Fr Mathew Perumpallikunnel, parish and school was entrusted to Rev Fathers of Bethany Ashram. Consequent to the appointment, in 2007 as Apostolic Visitator of ETRI, HE Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas special care and attention was given to the community in Surat and thanks to his sustained efforts, HE Bishop, Godfrey Rozarios in 2008 had given consent for having personal parish for the Malankarites.
The need of independent church was badly felt and parish priests and the parishioners prayed and begged to Almighty incessantly to make this dream true. Rev Fr Mathew Augustine, OIC, Rev Fr Mathew Modiyil, OIC and Rev Fr Benedict OIC physically and spiritually supported the divine endeavour of the parishioners. As a miracle, God answered the prayer and on 3rd March, 2012, and the foundation stone of the church was laid by HE Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas in the presence of Rev Fr Benedict OIC, the then Vicar
Rev Fr Joseph Noble,OIC took over the Vicar and under his dynamic leadership and enthusiasm, the first Malankara Catholic Church in Gujarat was consecrated on 8th June 2013 His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselius Cardinal Cleemis, Major Arch Bishop-Catholicos of Syro Malankara Catholic Church.
Presence of Holy Spirit Sisters(OSS)
Holy Spirit Sisters (OSS) with their august presence were bonded with the community right from the inception. Their service in imparting spiritual leadership to the children and youth and bringing the community close to God need special appreciation. The development and upliftment of the community, construction of the church and its liturgical beauty could not have been possible without the valuable support and guidance from the nearby Convent and Rev Sisters.
Former Vicars, Brothers, Sisters served:
1. Rev Fr Mathew Perumpallikunnel
2. Rev Fr Augustine OIC
3. Rev Fr Mathew Modiyil, OIC
4. Rev Fr George Varghese, OIC
5. Rev Fr Peter John OIC
6. Rev Fr Benedict Kaniyantayyath OIC
7. Rev Fr Joseph Noble OIC
8. Rev Fr Britto OIC
9. Late Rev Fr Jose Valakuzhi, OIC
10. Rev Fr Justin OIC
11. Rev Fr Shoby Mathew OCI
12. Rev Fr Binoy George, OIC
13. Rev Fr Benedict Kaniyantayyath OIC
14. Rev Fr Sijo Mathew OIC ( as Regent Br)
15. Rev Fr Geevarghese Paniker OIC( as Regent Br)
16. Rev Fr Francis, OIC ( as Regent Br)
17. Rev Fr Justin Thomas, Chakkumkal ( as Regent Br)
18. Rev Sr Merlin OSS
19. Rev Sr Blessy OSS
20. Rev Sr Kusumam OSS
21. Rev Sr Vimala OSS
22. Rev Sr Sunitha OSS
23. Rev Sr Rani Mariya, OSS
24. Rev Sr Anice OSS
25. Rev Sr Blessy, OSS
26. Rev. Sr Soumya, OSS