Christianity in Meghalaya

Christianity was first introduced in Meghalaya during the 18th century and later it became the main religion of the state. Christianity made its way into the region through British contact with the indigenous Khasi people. During 1830s many Christian missionaries were set up in Meghalaya to preach the Gospel of to local Tribals. During the 18th-19th century, many native Tribals of Meghalaya converted. The British people and various Christian missionaries were successful in converting the majority Tribals of Meghalaya to Christianity.

Religions in Meghalaya 2018[1]
Religion Percent

Before Christianity arrived in Meghalaya majority of tribal people were following Animist religion with Ka niamtre and songsarek tradition. The Christian population in Meghalaya is estimated approx. 2.5 million which forms (74.59%) of the state population at 2018 census. Currently Presbyterian and Roman Catholic are the two most dominant Christian sects in Meghalaya. Baptism is mainly practiced by garo people living in Western part of Meghalaya. The Catholic church has a homogeneous presence with adherents from among the Khasi, Jaintia, Garos and many others.Presbyterian is the largest christian dominant sect among the Khasi people living in the eastern part of Meghalaya while the Baptist church is predominantly practise by the garo people. Christianity is mainly practiced by native Khasi people, Garo people and Jaintia people. According to 2017 census report, nearly (84.6%) of the Khasi people, (89.34%) of the Garo people and (60.11%) of the Jaintia people are identified themselves as Christians. Hinduism is the second largest religion in Meghalaya practiced by non tribals such as Bengalis, Biharis, Nepalis, Marwaris and Assamese people etc covering (11.9%) of the state population as of 2017 census report. The Christianity is the largest religion in the state of Meghalaya followed by Tribal local religions, Hinduism, Islam and others. Religion in Meghalaya is closely related to ethnicity. Close to 92% of the Garo and nearly 85% of the Khasi are Christian, while more than 97% of the Hajong, 98.53% of the Koch are Hindu and 94.6% of the Rabha are Hindus.

At the 2001 census, out of the 689,639 Garo living in Meghalaya, only 49,917 followed their original religion (Songsarek) down from 90,456 in 1991. 9,129 of the Garo were Hindu (up from 2,707 in 1991) and 999 were Buddhist (up from 109 in 1991). There were also 8,980 Muslims.

Unlike the Garo, a significant number of the Khasi still follow their original religion (Niam Shnong / Niamtre). Out of the 1,123,490 Khasi, 202,978 followed the indigenous religion (slightly up from 189,226 in 1991). 17,641 of the Khasi were Hindu (8,077 in 1991) and 2,977 were Muslim.

A number of minor tribes live in Meghalaya, including Hajong (31,381 – 97.23% Hindu), Koch (21,381 – 98.53% Hindu), Synteng (18,342 – 80% Christian), Rabha tribe (28,153 – 94.60% Hindu), Mikir (11,399 – 52% Christian and 30% Hindu), and Biate (10,085 – 97% Christian).

The Roman Catholic Church with a homogeneous presence spread throughout the state of Meghalaya form the largest denominations in the state with 8,49,226 adherents (2017 data). The Church is under the ecclesiastical province of Shillong with the following dioceses: 1) Archdiocese of Shillong (313,326 adherents), 2) Diocese of Tura (292,890 adherents), 3) Diocese of Nongstoin (139,700 adherents), and 4) Diocese of Jowai (104,310 adherents).

The Presbyterian Church Is another largest denomination in Meghalaya under the Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian Assembly with 7,50,989 adherents. The Church is governed under the following synod's namely Khasi Jaintia Synod Mihngi, the Khasi Jaintia Synod Sepngi and the Ri Bhoi Synod.

The Baptist Church under the Garo Baptist Convention make up perhaps the largest denomination among the Garos in Meghalaya with 5'05,560 adherents ( both baptised and unbaptised) concentrated mostly in the Garo Hills out of a garo population of 8,21,026 with the remaining 2,75,000 mostly catholics.

The Church of God in Meghalaya, an indigenous church, established in Mylliem in 1902 is the fourth largest denomination in the state with nearly 1,00,000 adherents.

The Church of North India of the Anglican Communion under the Diocese of North East India in Meghalaya is the fifth largest denomination with close to 50,000 adherents.

See also


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