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Mumbai to host conference on Christian heritage 

MUMBAI: Over the coming weekend, the city will host a two-day international conference that will focus on the topic of ‘The Material Cultural Heritage of Christianity in Maharashtra’.

It will be held at the University of Mumbai’s Kalina campus and is jointly organised by the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, University of Mumbai, the Church Association of India (CHAI), and India Study Centre Trust (INSTUCEN), Mumbai.

The day-long conference on January 14 and 15 will begin at 8.30 am and go on till 5 pm. With an entry fee of Rs 1,000 per person, it can be attended by 300 to 400 people. Dr Kurush Dalal, assistant professor of Archaeology at Centre for Extra-Mural Studies at the University of Mumbai said, “We have been having such conferences for four years. The first one was about Maharashtra. Later we had one on caves and temples. This time we thought about covering churches. Nobody has ever focussed on the material cultural heritage. People do not know why things are the way they are.”

Some of the topics to be covered at the conference include the much-debated advent of Christianity, and the history and modification of churches in the Konkan region. The discussion will trace the modifications made to churches with respect to their design and structure. These churches will include those made by the Portuguese, British and Jesuits among others, DNA reported .

The conference will also touch upon the churches that once stood but are no longer around, besides talking about the indigenous influences on church architecture. Attendees will learn about other elements related to Christianity such as stained-glass paintings and church bells that are now a part of temples.

“When the first European seafarers came to India at the end of the 15th century AD, they were pleasantly surprised to find Christian communities in India. To protect their trade, they built forts and to preserve their religious identity, they built their own places of worship. The Franciscans were the first to establish churches in Bassein, Salsette, Bombay, Karanja and Chaul,” informed Agnes De Sa, Secretary of CHAI, an ecumenical body of different Christian denominations and co-ordinator of the conference.

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