Palai has been a multi-ethnic and multi religious town. Christians form the largest community followed by Hindus and Muslims respectively.
Kottayam district in Kerala has the largest presence of Christian population. Since Christianity found a firm foothold here, Kottayam saw its many offshoots. As a result, Kottayam is now the headquarters of the Malankara Orthodox Church, the Syrian Church and the Jacobites, as well as the Catholic divisions of the Knanaya Church. It has been found that the highest density of Catholics in the world, after the Philippines, is in Meenachil, one of the taluks in Kottayam district.
The most popular Christian pilgrimage center in Kerala namely Bharanaganam comes under the diocese of Palai. The first Indian Saint, St. Alphonsa, lived here and her mortal remains are kept in a chapel next to St. Mary's Church, Bharananganam.
In the north, Palai diocese borders dioceses of Moovattupuzha (Malankara) and Kothamangalam, to the south it adjoins Changanassery archdiocese and Kanjirappally diocese, in the east are Idukki and Kanjirapally dioceses and in the west is archdiocese of Ernakulam.
The total population of the diocesan territory is 764,000 as per the Census of 2016.
Malayalam and English are in use.
The diocese of Palai belongs to Syro Malabar rite. The diocese has an area of 1, 166 square kilometers comprising the Meenachil taluk and a few villages of the neighboring taluks in Kottayam, Ernakulam and Idukki districts of central Kerala. The Catholics of the diocese belongs to the ancient St. Thomas Christian community.
Pope Pius XII established the diocese bifurcating the eparchy of Changanacherry and out of the territory covered by the then foranes of Palai, Muttuchira, Kuravilangad, Anakkallu and Ramapuram, on July 25, 1950. The diocese was erected as a suffragan of the archdiocese of Ernakulam. The then apostolic nuncio to India, Archbishop Leo P. Kierkels, installed Mar Sebastian Vayalil as the first bishop of the new eparchy. Epharchy of Changanacherry was elevated to the status of archeparchy and constituted the new ecclesiastical province of Changanacherry on Aug. 22, 1956. Thus, the diocese of Palai became one of its suffragans.
The territory is well-connected by roads. The district has daily train services to all major cities of the country. The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport which is nearly 70 kilometers from the diocesan headquarters.
The diocesan territory has equatorial climate, hot and humid. The most important rainy season is during the southwest monsoon which sets in the first week of June and extends up to September. The northeast monsoon extends from the second half of October through November. The average annual rainfall is 2,840 mm. During December to March, practically no rain is received and from October onwards, the temperature gradually increases to reach the maximum in May, which is the hottest month of the year. The maximum temperature in May comes to 34 degrees Celsius.
The economy of the diocese is mainly based on agriculture. A major part of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Rubber is the main cash crop. Coconuts, coca, pepper, vanilla and coffee are the other major cultivations. The Christians in the diocese is financially sound. Major industries are related to the processing of rubber latex and manufacturing of rubber products.
The level of telecommunications infrastructure is high. Almost everyone has a mobile phone. Most of the homes have television, telephone and internet. In rural areas, access to internet is limited. There are no television and radio broadcasting stations in the diocesan territory.
Literacy rate in the diocesan territory is 95.90 percent, higher than the national average of 59.5 percent.
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