Armenian Churches of India

The Armenians have been connected with India as traders from the days of antiquity. They came to this country by the overland route, through Persia, Afghanistan and Tibet and were well established in all the commercial centers long before the advent of any European traders. However, the Armenian community prospered and developed from the 16th, right up to the 18th century. In the early 18th century the Indian subcontinent was faced with a severe crisis. Fierce civil strife between Indians and Europeans, as well as between the European powers themselves (England and France), resulted in the victory and subsequent expansion of the British rule in India. It is during this period of political upheaval and unrest that the Armenian community sought to reestablish their socio-cultural identity and not just restrict themselves to be a vibrant commercial community. This was one of the reasons that urged them to build churches in their settlements and invite priests and pastors from Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia. The Church was and is considered as the centre of all community activities.

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The Armenians in India considered it their patriotic duty to build churches and provide educational facilities for their compatriots in order to preserve their religion, language, literature and national identity. To the Armenians, Christianity is the religion of the heart and not of the head. It is evident from the gallant and simple records illuminated with the tears of saints and glorified with the blood of martyrs.

Wherever the Armenians go, there is one thing common among them, and that is, retaining their religion. In India, wherever they built settlements, they constructed churches. Today, all over India, one can find many beautiful Armenian churches, chapels and historical monuments standing as mute witnesses or silent sentinels of a once-flourishing Armenian settlement.

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