Church bell tolls for Kashmir after 50 years
The British-era church lost its original bell in an arson attack and was not replaced
For the first time in five decades, a church bell rang on Sunday at the largest Catholic church in the main city of India-administered Kashmir.
Members of Srinagar’s tiny Christian community assembled at the 120-year-old Holy Family Catholic Church and celebrated the installation of the new bell, weighing 105 kilograms.
The British-era church lost its original bell 50 years ago in an arson attack. According to church officials, the church and its belfry were damaged in the attack by protesters demonstrating against Mideast war.
The bell was badly damaged and rendered useless in the the 1967 incident, said Sydney Rath, a local Christian member of the church.
He said the bell was not installed all these years because “the community didn’t have enough resources to order a new bell after its damage”.
Rath said one of the roughly 30 Christian families living in Srinagar donated the bell.
People from other faiths, including Muslims and Hindus, also participated in the event on Sunday.
‘We are one’
The Reverend Roy Matthews, the church’s pastor, said the inter-faith ceremony reflected the traditional “composite culture” of Kashmir.
“So the message is loud and clear that we all are one, no matter whatever faith, persuasion you have, but basically we are all human beings,” Matthews said.
An old bell that was removed is seen in the foreground as people from various faiths ring the new bell at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Srinagar on Sunday.