Every religion plays an important
role in shaping society, community as well as history. So the
study of a religion is essential to understand the community as
well as the local history. Omission of facts about religion
creates false impression that religious life of human kind is
insignificant or unimportant. But there is history in all men's
lives. The knowledge of basic symbols, practices, concepts,
principles etc. is essential to share each other's feelings. It
promotes cross-cultural understanding which leads to peace and
mutual respect for other's religion.
Malegaon is located on Mumbai-Agra national highway. Local
Jahagirdar Naro Shankar Raje Bahadur started building fort in 1740
and completed it in 1760. Some historians, however, dispute its
construction by Naro Shankar and claim that the fort of Malegaon
has a history which proves its existence in eighth
century. The British captured Malegaon Fort in 1818. The British
army stayed in the North Portion of the city which is known as
Camp Area. Two Historical monuments of British rule are still in
camp area and these are St. Paul Church, previously known as
Christ Church and Christian Cemetery or Grave yard.
St. Paul Church
St. Paul Church of Malegaon is nearly 190 years old. The exact
date of establishment is not known but the oldest grave in the
cemetery notes that Isabelle Kantril died on 21st Oct. 1819.
So it clearly indicates that the church was built in 1818 or
Malegaon is multicultural and
multilingual vibrant city. 70 % of the total population is Muslim
Community. Malegaon's population is now near about seven lakh but
the Christians are very few nearly two hundred fifty (250) people.
The British army stayed in Malegaon,
previously known as 'Malligaum' (Anglicized native name) for many
years. St. Paul Church of Malegaon is nearly 190 years old. The
exact date of establishment is not known but the oldest grave in
the cemetery notes that Isabelle Kantril died on 21st Oct. 1819.
So it clearly indicates that the church was built in 1818 or 1819.
St. Paul Church is good example of Gothic Architecture.
Christianity was founded in 1st
century and spread from Jerusalem. The branches of Christianity
are Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. St. Paul Church is a
Protestant Church. The main customs of Christianity are Baptism,
Confirmation and Communion. The church is built in stone with
east-west direction. It's length is 25 feet and width is 22 feet.
The Church has Latin Cross Shape. The height of the Church is 25
Feet. The windows display Gothic Structure.
The Christian Cemetery is located to the north of the church.
Graveyards or cemeteries are generally established at the same
time. The term 'cemetery' is originated from Greek word 'Koimeterion'
which means ' sleeping place' or French word 'Cimetiere' which
means 'graveyard'. So cemetery is a final resting place. It is a
place set aside for long term burial of the dead, with or without
Early Christian history tells that
burial took place in sacred church ground. Burials were divided by
social status. The families of the deceased who could afford the
work stone-mason had headstone carved and set up over the place of
the burial with indication of the name of the deceased, date of
birth and death, and other biographical data. Those who could not
pay for headstone, usually had some religious symbol made from
wood on the place of burial.
Christian cemeteries are of nine
types - Anglican, Baptist, Christian Orthodox, Lutheran,
Methodist, Moravian, Protestant Reformed, Quaker and Roman
Catholic. Cemetery at Malegaon is protestant Cemetery. According
to the structure, the types of cemeteries are i] Lawn Cemetery ii]
Natural Cemetery iii] Monumental Cemetery iv] Family Cemetery.
The cemetery at Malegaon is Monumental Cemetery. It is traditional
style where headstones or other monuments made of marble or
granite or similar material rise vertically above the ground,
typically around 50 c.m. but can be 2 mtrs. high. Often the entire
grave is covered by slab, commonly concrete, marble or granite.
The area of Cemetery in Malegaon is 3 acres. The entrance of the
cemetery catches attention with poetical lines from Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow's poem 'God's Acre'. The lines are engraved
on the two pillars of entrance gate.
''This is the field and a cre of our Lord into its furrows
shall we all be cost".
'A cre of our Lord' is Ancient Saxon Phrase for burial ground.
There are near about one hundred
graves of British Army Officers as well as Christian priests.
Gravestones are erected which offer information about the deceased
person. The tallest monument is of Lieutenant Col. John Beck who
died on 20th Aug. 1849. At the entrance of the graveyard is the
grave of a couple. Rev. Shankar Balwant and his wife Parubai. Both
died in 1884.
Another tall monument is of Lt.
Cruickshank and Captain B. Justice who were in 7th Regiment of
North Infantry. The inscriptions on their grave has mentioned
Malegaon as Malligaum. The marble monument of Lt. Col. Arthur John
Boig is still in good condition. John Bell Dunstberville died at
the age of 48 on 7th July 1833. There are some graves without
monumental inscriptions. However, the grave stone epitaphs are a
meaningful way to give respect to the deceased. They reflect one's
existence highlighting their personality traits and accomplishment
in life. Death cannot kill the names of good men.
The peaceful, serene, calm atmosphere of the cemetery makes us
tongue tied & silent. It makes us aware about the hard- hitting
reality that we all are living life but moving towards its final
destination 'death' itself . But we ought not be afraid of death
as it takes us back to our Creator. We need to ponder over the
following lines from William Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'.
"All that lives must die; Passing
through nature to eternity"
A Christian's journey begins at
Church with Baptism and ends in Cemetery.
The writer is Asst
Prof at JAT Art, Sc & Commerce
Senior College for
She can be reached at