In a land area of 32,147 square kilometers, the diocese of Gulbarga includes four revenue districts of Bidar, Bijapur, Yadgir and Gulbarga in Karnataka state. Gulbarga, the largest city in north Karnataka state, is also the divisional headquarters. In the olden days it was known as 'Kalburgi' which in Kannada means land of stones or heap of stones.. Krishna and Bhima rivers flow through this land.
The total population of Gulbarga diocese is approximately 7,348,000, according to the census of 2016. While 76 percent of the majority are Hindus, 18 percent are Muslims. Catholicism is a minority in the diocese with approximately 7,730 followers. Many Christian denominations are prevalent in the region with Methodists making the majority.
Gulbarga diocese is predominantly a Kannada-speaking diocese. Kannada which is the official language of Karnataka is the main language across the diocese. There are people who speak Marathi, Telugu, Hindi, English and Konkanni.
Pope Benedict XVI created the diocese of Gulbarga comprising the four districts of North Karnataka on June 24, 2005, and appointed Bishop Robert Michael Miranda as the first bishop. The diocese was carved out of Hyderabad, Belgaum, and Bellary dioceses.
Gulbarga is around 200 kilometers west of Hyderabad and around 600 kilometers north of Bangalore. NH 9 connecting Hyderabad and Pune passes through Bidar. NH 13 connecting Bangalore-Sholapur-Pune passes through Bijapur. All trains from Mumbai to Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore and Kanyakumari pass through Gulbarga city. There is also an inter-city train connecting Bijapur, Sholapur and Gulbarga. There are a number of government and private busses from Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur to Hyderabad, Pune, Bangalore, Hubli, Goa, Mumbai and other neighbouring cities. A domestic airport is coming up in Gulbarga.
The majority of the people in this part of the state are poor. Popularly known as the 'Hyderabad-Karnataka Region', it is the most backward region of Karnataka. There are only two kinds of people: the land lords and the daily wage earners. The vast majority are the coolies or the landless labourers who live on daily wages. Unfortunately, they do not get work all through the year. In many places, they do not have work even for six months in a year. The small and marginal farmers have only arid land in their name and do not make any profit from their farms. Discrimination on the basis of caste still prevails.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy in this region. Jowar, rice, wheat, cotton, ground nuts, oilseeds, vegetables, sugarcane, spices and cereals are grown in the entire area. Animal husbandry and sheep rearing is a common occupation. This part of the state is declared as a horticultural zone by the government. All the three districts of the diocese are figuring among the 200 most backward regions in the country.
Though the region can boast of a rich religious and cultural heritage, the region has a highest rate of illiteracy and the lowest standard of education in the entire state. The number of people coming under the category of below poverty line is the highest in the region. There exists the great division between the rich and the poor, the landlords and the landless. The lowest industrial growth and the lowest per capita income is also the cause of acute illiteracy. Highest number of child labourers, high rate of unemployment, under employment and seasonal employment are also the causes. The diocese has 56.69 percent literacy in which 67.97 percent men are literate and only 47.34 percent women are literate.
The existence of a number of temples with their historical background speaks of a rich spiritual and cultural heritage. The 'Bidri Art' which found patronage of the Mughal Kings is popular. Lambani dance by a tribe called Lambanis, kolata (dancing with sticks), bhajan singing and folk songs (Janapada) are the popular folk arts of this region. Even the Christian festivals like Christmas and Easter are celebrated by singing the bhajans and songs all through the night by the localites.
Though the region has given birth to great poets and laureates, the one person who has definitively made an impact in the religious, social and literary field, and revered even today in the entire region is Basavanna of Bagewadi.
Gonsalo Garcia was born on Feb. 5, 1556, to a Portuguese father and Indian mother of Konkani descent, at Agashi village at Bassein (now Vasai), near Mumbai city in western India. His father was a soldier stationed at Fort Bassein, a Portuguese fort. Gonsalo received his education under the Jesuits. While assisting at the Church of the Holy of Jesus at Bassein, he developed a friendship with Jesuit Father Sebastian Gonsalves, who eventually became his lifelong mentor and guide.
This Filipino layman martyr saint could be rightly called the patron of infant baptism because it was after the baptism of an infant through his instrumentality that on 2nd April 1672 Pedro was martyred along with his companion missionary Fr. Diego San Vitores who baptised the infant. This infant was of a mother who got converted to Catholicism.
Lorenzo Ruiz, also called Saint Lorenzo of Manila, is a Filipino saint venerated in the Catholic Church. A Chinese-Filipino, he became his country's protomartyr after his execution in Japan by the Tokugawa Shogunate during its persecution of Japanese Christians in the 17th century.
Andrew Kim Taegon was the first Korea-born Catholic priest ordained by the French Bishop Jean-Joseph-Jean-Baptiste Ferréol at Shanghai in 1844.
On every first Friday of the month thousands of Catholics flock to Holy Cross Church of Cherpunkal in Kerala, India to revere Infant Jesus and St. Thomas, the founder of the church. The church stands on the southern bank of Meenachil River. This fabled church, also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross)Church, belongs to Catholic Diocese of Palai of the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church.
St. Mary’s Cathedral Church in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, is the mother church in the tribal belt of eastern India, where Belgian Jesuits laid the foundation of Catholicism in 19th century. This brownish Church, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary, stands on Dr. Camil Bulcke Path and nestles between St. Xavier’s College and St. Albert Major Seminary.
Basilica of Our Lady of Graces in Sardhana is a historic church that lives the memory of love and benevolence of the sole female Roman Catholic ruler in India. Our Lady of Graces Church of Sardhana stands at Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh of northern India. Consecrated in 1822, this 200-feet long church with a high central dome over the main altar, is one of the largest churches in northern India.
Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica at Mylapore is a monumental declaration on ancient root of Christianity in India. The church was built over the tomb of St. Thomas, the Apostle who is believed to have preached Christianity in India. The cathedral preserves 2000-year-old bones of the saint and the lance that pierced him to death. Popularly known as Santhome Church, the cathedral at Chennai (formerly Madras) in Tamil Nadu state was constructed during the Portuguese era in the 16th century. “San Thome” assumes its name from St. Thomas.
Mokama Marian shrine on the southern bank of Ganges River bears the legacy persecuted Nepali Catholics banished from their homeland to India for refusing to renounce their faith. Our Lady of Divine Grace Church at Mokama stands about 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of eastern Indian state of Bihar. Mother Mary is popularly known as Mokama Mata (Mother of Mokama). The church was built to honor Mary in 1947.
The Cathedral of Good Shepherd in Singapore is a historic National Monument, but it also holds first-class relics of a French saint who brought Catholicism on the shores of city-state two centuries ago. Built in 1847, the Good Shepherd Cathedral is the oldest Catholic Church and mother church of all Catholic churches in Singapore.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a landmark in Kerala state of southern India. Santa Cruz Church blends Indo-European and Gothic architectural style that draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The cathedral is a great place of devotion and historic significance that survived colonial conquests and invasions to the city.
St. Anthony Cathedral at Wahakotte in Kandy is a melting of cultures and religions in Sri Lanka. Wonder worker St. Anthony of Padua is a highly respected saint among Sri Lankans of all ethnicities and faiths. Thousands visit this pilgrimage site all the year round. On the feast of St. Anthony on June 13, this national Catholic shrine draws tens of thousands of faithful from all over the country.