International Workshop: Catholic Cultures, Indian Cultures

A Workshop on Rites, Religiosity, and Cultural diversity in Indian Catholicism

Organized by Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore and the College of the Holy Cross
January 12-15, 2015
Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore

India is a multicultural society and home of the three rites (Roman, SyroMalabar, Syro-Malankara) within the Catholic Church. The origin of each of the three rites in India had its unique historical context, ‘incarnating’ the Christian faith in a particular socio-cultural milieu. This process of inculturation, although within the basic framework of the particular rite, has been taking place integrating elements of the local cultures. As Indian culture is so varied, this inculturation within the same rite also has been varied. The unique combination of three rites within the Catholic Church in India has created a particularly rich and diverse context for Catholic religious life.


This workshop is organized under the auspices of Asian Horizons, Dharmaram Journal of Theology, as a collaborative work of the College of the Holy Cross and Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, and will explore “lived Catholicism” in the three rites in India’s different cultural contexts. Beginning with a historical overview of the origin and development of each rite and the three constitutive elements of a rite, namely, liturgy, theology and spirituality and administrative structure, the workshop will focus on the perspectives gained from considering the lived experience of ordinary Catholics.

Among the questions to be considered are:

  • What makes each rite liturgically unique?
  • What practices differ in Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara, and Latin communities? Are there special devotions, feasts, or fasts? Distinctive ways of mourning the dead, celebrating marriage or fulfilling obligations to the poor?
  • Within each rite, are there variations in practice according to gender, caste, or regional location?
  • In what ways do the rites creatively overlap and complement one another?
  • How do the rites relate to the experience and cultures of non-Christian Indians?


We plan to have around 50 participants from the three rites. There will be plenary and panel sessions, along with break out groups and poster presentations for more informal discussion. A few literary, art and cultural forms also shall be presented. Presentations will be recorded and posted on the Catholics and Cultures website. Participants will also be invited to revise their presentation for inclusion in the Journal of Global Catholicism or Asian Horizons and for an edited volume.

We hope that this workshop will help to understand more profoundly:

  • How Christian faith lived in the particular socio-cultural context help appreciate more deeply the variety and richness of each other’s traditions and lived faith experience, and how they can enrich each other?
  • How can we help explore an inter-ecclesial consciousness based on the depths of faith and its very openness and complementarity?
  • How can the lived experience of the past and present help these Churches in their way forward?



The workshop is organized by Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore and the College of the Holy Cross, USA.  Established in 1843, the College of the Holy Cross is a Catholic liberal arts college in the Jesuit tradition that enrolls 2,800 students and offers 28 academic majors. Located in Worcester, Massachusetts, the College of the Holy Cross is consistently ranked among America’s top colleges and universities. Holy Cross is home to the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture that oversees the Catholics & Cultures initiative for the global study of lived Catholicism. Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram is a Pontifical Athenaeum of Philosophy, Theology and Oriental Canon Law.

Organizing Committee

Saju Chackalackal (President, DVK)
Thomas Kollamparampil (Dean, Faculty of Theology, DVK)
Thomas Landy (Director of the McFarland Center, College of the Holy Cross)
Mathew N. Schmalz (College of the Holy Cross)
Francis Thonippara (DVK)
Geo Pallikunnel (DVK)
Paulachan Kochappilly (DVK)
Joseph Varghese Kureethara (Christ University, Bangalore)
Shaji George Kochuthara (DVK, Convenor).


Shaji George Kochuthara, CMI (Convenor).
Mobile: (0)9341062600

Call for Papers

Besides the keynote and plenary session papers, we plan to have a few parallel sessions. Please send the abstract of the papers (300 words) before 15th December 2014. If selected for presentation, the complete text of the papers should be sent to the convenor before December 30, 2014.
Poster presentations also are invited. Deadline to submit the abstract (300 words): December 15, 2014.
Topics for Parallel Session Paper and Posters:

  • Religious Life and Monastic Life in Each Rite
  • Lay Movements
  • Laity
  • Popular Literary Forms
  • Christmas and Epiphany
  • Migration and Immigration
  • Individual Churches: Identity and Openness.

Please note: We plan to publish the papers in July 2015. Hence those who present papers will be requested to submit the final text for publication by the beginning of April 2015. We request all the participants to be present for all the sessions.

Venue: Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore.
Date and Time: 12 January 2015, 10.00 am to 15 January 2015, 1.00 pm
Boarding and Lodging: Boarding and lodging shall be provided at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram. The expenses for lodging and boarding on conference days shall be met by Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram.
Travel: We shall also reimburse the travel expenses by train (second AC) or bus. We will reimburse flight charges of a limited number of participants from North India.

We will be honored to have your esteemed presence and scholarly presentation at the workshop. If you have another proposal regarding the theme to be included, please feel free to suggest it. We will be only happy to consider it.

Program (tentative)

JANUARY 12, 2015
9:00 a.m.: Registration

9:30 a.m.: Opening Ceremony, Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis (Catholicos of Syro Malankara Church); Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil

10:30 a.m.: Keynote 1: The Importance of Studying Lived Catholicism, Thomas Landy (College of the Holy Cross)

11:30 a.m.: Plenary 1: Anthropology, Culture and Faith
1. Faith and Culture: A Theological Perspective, Kuncheria Pathil, CMI (Jeevadhara, Kottayam)
2. Lived Catholicism and the Problem of Culture, Mathew Schmalz (College of the Holy Cross)
3. Indian Culture/s and the Three Catholic Rites in India, Paul Pulikkan (University of Calicut)

2:30 p.m.: Keynote 2: Individual Churches in India – Historical Origin and Development, Francis Thonippara, CMI (DVK)

3:15 p.m.: Plenary 2: Unique Features of the Eucharistic Liturgy
1. Syro-Malankara, Kuriakose Thadathail (Malnkara Seminary, Trivandrum)
2. Latin Rite, Francis Minj, SJ (Jesuit Regional Theologate, Ranchi)
3. Syro-Malabar, Pauly Maniatt (Paurasthya Vidyapitham, Vadavathoor)

6:00 p.m.: Plenary 3: Popular Devotions [Devotion to Bl. Virgin Mary, Saints, Shrines, Pilgrimage]
1. Syro-Malabar, Bp. Joseph Kallarangatt (Bishop of Palai);
2. Latin Rite, S. Joseph Lionel (Vailankanni)
3. Syro-Malankara, Joseph Valliyattu (Malankara Seminary, Trivandrum)

7:30 p.m.: Evening Prayers (Latin Rite)

JANUARY 13, 2015

6:45 a.m.: Eucharistic Celebration (Latin Rite)

8:45 a.m.: Plenary 4: Family and Marriage and Gender Roles
1. Syro-Malabar Rite, Shiji Varghese (Changanacherry)
2. Syro-Malankara Rite, Giby Geevarghese (Mar Theophilos College, Trivandrum)
Latin Rite, C. Justin Selvaraj (Madurai Kamaraj University)
4. The Tying of the Ceremonial Wedding Thread – “Ritual” and “Tradition” Among Syro-Malabar Catholics, Sonja Thomas (Colby College, USA)

10:45 a.m.: Poster Presentations: Childhood and Coming of Age; Baptism/Sacraments of Initiation

11:15 a.m.: Plenary 5: Liturgy of the Hours
1. Syro-Malankara Rite, Philip Vysanethu, OIC (Pune)
2. Syro-Malabar Rite, Sr Jean Mathew, SH (Changanacherry)
3. Latin Rite, Moncy, SDB (Kristu Jyoti College, Bangalore)

2:15 p.m.: Plenary 6: Folk Culture, Folklore and Catholic Identity
1. Catholic Identity in The Folk Cultural Circuit of Kerala, Scaria Zacharia (Prof. Retd. Sanskrit University, Kalady)
2. Performing Identities: A case study of Moovarasu natakam, Joly Puthussery (Centre for Folk Culture Studies, University of Hyderabad)

4:00 p.m.: Plenary 7: Death, Mourning and Death Anniversaries
1. Syro-Malabar Rite, Joby Kochumuttom, CMI (DVK)
2. Latin, Tribal, Sujata Kujur

6:00 p.m.: Plenary 8: Holy Week and Easter
1. Syro-Malabar, Geo Pallikunnel (DVK);
2. Syro-Malankara, Philip Chempakassery (Malankara Seminary, Trivandrum)

7:30 p.m.: Evening Prayer (Syro-Malankara Rite)
8:45 p.m.: Dance/Music (from each Rite)

JANUARY 14, 2015

6:45 p.m.: Eucharistic Celebration (Syro-Malankara Rite)

9:00 a.m.: Plenary 9: Dalit Practices, Selvaraj Arulnathan, SJ; Arul Raja, SJ
Assimilation of Tribal Practices, Bp H.L. Anand Jojo (Bishop of Hazaribag)

10:30 a.m.: Posters: Home Practices

11:00 a.m.: Plenary 10: Fasting
1. Syro-Malabar Rite, Joseph Varghese Kureethara, CMI (Christ University, Bangalore)
2. Syro-Malankara, Issac Parappallil (Malankara Seminary, Trivandrum)

2:00 p.m.: Plenary 11: Food and Celebrations
1. Syro-Malabar, Jose Chennattussery, CMI (Christ University, Bangalore)

3:45 p.m.: Plenary 12: Christmas and Epiphany, John Moolan (Trichur)
Art and Architecture, George Menacherry (Trichur)

6:00 p.m.: Plenary 13: Church Administration (Central, Diocesan and Parish Set up),
1. Syro-Malabar, Jose Chiramel (President, Major Archiepiscopal Ordinary Tribunal, Ernakulam)
2. Syro-Malankara, Stephen Plathottathil, OIC

7:30 p.m.: Evening Prayer (Syro-Malabar Rite)

JANUARY 15, 2015

7:00 a.m.: Eucharistic Celebration (Syro-Malabar)

9:00 a.m.: Plenary 14: Ways of Relating with Other Religions, Jenee Peter (U.C. College, Aluva)
Interaction between the Latin Rite and New Christian Movements, Savio Abreu, SJ
Lived Catholicism Defies Boundaries – Insights from the Coastal Context, P.T. Mathew, SJ

10:30 a.m.: Tea Break

10:45 a.m.: Parallel Sessions
Dalit Practices, Mathew Schmalz (College of the Holy Cross)
Gender and Family: A case study on Roman Catholic marriage practices among the Nadars of Tamil Nadu, C. Justin Selvaraj
Liturgical Year: Syro-Malabar Church, John Moolan

Noon: Concluding Message

Pauly Maniyatt: Individual Churches: Identity and Openness
John Moolan: Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Praises): Syro-Malabar Church; Sacraments of Initiation: Syro-Malabar Church
Sebastian Edathikavil: Dress and Ornaments
George Menacherry: Nazraneys: How Incultured Are They?; How Old Are Our Church Buildings?