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Diocese of Jalpaiguri

Diocese of Jalpaiguri
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The languages used in the diocesan territory are Bengali, Hindi, Oraon, Mundari, Kharia, Santhali, Sadri, Boro, Nepali and English. Each tribal community has its own dialect. Most tribals understand and speak Sadri.


After the separation of East Bengal from India (now Bangladesh), the region of Jalpaiguri was detached from Dinajpur diocese, now in Bangladesh. And the region was erected into a diocese on Jan 17, 1952, with Bishop Ambrose Galbiati (PIME) as its first bishop. The diocese was entrusted to the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions, Milan (PIME) Fathers.

The former prelates are: 1. Bishop Ambrose Galbiati (PIME) (1952 1967); 2. Bishop Francis Ekka (1968-1971) - then transferred to Raigarh - Ambikapur diocese in central India; 3. Bishop James A. Toppo (1971 -2004)

Patrons: Christ the king, Our Lady of Rosary, Therese of Child Jesus. Most of the Catholics are migrant tribals transported from Chhotanagpur region (presently of Jharkhand civil sate) and Jashpur diocese (in central India) about a century ago to labor in the tea gardens by the British rulers in collaboration of the Belgian Jesuit missioners working amidst them.

Since many tea gardens are recently closed down due to less profit, the tribal workers, who are dependant on these gardens, suffer. The youngsters had never been to their "homeland", so they do not want to return there either. Since the educated Catholic tribals are moving out of the diocese in search of jobs, the diocese is loosing the educated youth.

Most of the Catholics are Oraon tribals. Other Catholic tribals are: Mundas, Kharias, Santals. There are also a few Bengali and Nepali Catholics. Catholics outnumber Christians of other denominations. Other Christians are: Anglicans, Lutherans, 7th Day Adventists, Baptists, Pentecostals and other Evangelical groups.

Renewal of Christian faith is done by movements like Charismatic movement, Couples For Christ (CFC) etc.

In spite of a number of Catholics, there is less vocation among them. The priests are mainly tribals from Jharkhand civil district and Jashpur diocese. Since young boys and girls work together, they get entangled with each other, resulting in marriages with other religions and communities, before their marriages are blessed. The youngsters are loosing their tribal culture and language and speak the common tribal Sadri dialect.


Jalpeshwar Shiva temple is a famous pilgrim centre for Hindus. Siliguri is the main transit point to Darjeeling, Kalimpong and the exotic north-eastern states. The town set amidst tea gardens and sal forests has emerged as a new commercial hub. The Hong Kong market is an important shopping place. The stadium here is venue for many international sporting events. The University of North Bengal is situated here and has the important railway junction and the Bagdogra airport nearby. National Highway No 31 runs through the district. Cooch Behar is a beautiful and well planned town. It is noted for the fine town architecture. Rajbari has the magnificent palace in Italian style built in 1887. The museum set up in the place exhibits artifacts of royal family. The beautiful Sagardighi lake in the heart of the town attracts migratory birds in winter. The Shiva temple at Baneshwar is dated back to 1100 BC. The Kamateshwari temple in Gosanimari is a fine example of the 17th century Bengali temple architecture.


Ethnic groups are Rajbanshi, Rava, Toto, Garo, Mech, Santhal, Munda, Kharia, Oraon.

Majority of the people are Bengali dalits.


Hindus are the largest religious group in the area of the diocese with 85%, followed by Muslims with 9%, Christians with 3% and others with 3%.


Earlier throughout the year it used to be raining. But now due to deforestation, the ecology is changing. Most of the village huts are made with bamboos and roofed with tin/ asbestos sheets.

Since many labor in the tea gardens and forest, they are prone to diseases like malaria, dysentery, diarrhea, black-fever, cholera etc. The region has been disturbed due to the Gorkhaland agitation in the neighboring Assam civil state. A large fair for agricultural produce and stock is held annually at Alipurduar town Buxa Duar is known as the 'Gateway to Bhutan'. The fort here is perched atop a hill and once served as a prison for India's eminent freedom fighters.

Buxa Tiger reserve comprises of reed lands and sal forests. Sal (Shorea robusta) is a species of tree native to southern Asia, ranging south of the Himalaya, from Myanmar in the east to India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. In India it extends from Assam, Bengal and Jharkhand west to the Shivalik Hills in Haryana, east of the Yamuna. The range also extends through the Eastern Ghats and to the eastern Vindhya and Satpura ranges of central India. It is often the dominant tree in the forests where it occurs.

Buxa Tiger reserve is home to 67 species of mammals, including 23 endangered ones. There are over 230 species of birds and various types of colorful butterflies. It is a vital linking corridor for elephants migrating between the forests of Bhutan and the Manas tiger reserve in Assam. Animals like tiger, elephant, sambar, leopard and bear are found here. Dooars is the gateway to the hill stations of North Bengal and Bhutan. It consists of vast stretch of forest and lush green countryside, crisscrossed by the river Teesta and its numerous tributaries. The scenic valley extends over 130 kms by 40 kms. The Gorumara national park covers an area of 79.85 square kilometers amidst scenic settings.

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