Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Religion Data of Census 2011: XXIV Tamil Nadu

Christians in Tamil Nadu


Tamil Nadu has a considerable Christian population. Of the total 2.78 crore Christians counted in India in 2011, 44 lakh are in Tamil Nadu, where they form 6.12 percent of the population. Their number and share in Tamil Nadu is the highest of all major States except the adjoining Kerala. Tamil Nadu and Kerala account for more than 1 crore of Christians in the country.

Christians in Tamil Nadu are spread across nearly all the districts, but their presence is relatively higher in a few pockets, which are also spread across different parts of the State. Their highest presence is in the south, particularly in Kanniyakumari. This district alone accommodates one-fifth of all Christians in the State.

The share of Christians in the State as well as in many of the districts has been rising slowly for several decades. But their growth has been very rapid in Kanniyakumari, where their share in the population rose from 30.7 percent in 1921 to 34.7 percent in 1951 and has risen to 46.8 percent since then. There has been an accretion of 2.4 percentage points during the last decade alone.

Besides Kanniyakumari, the growth of Christians has been remarkable in Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts that surround Chennai city. These two earlier formed the single district of Chengalpattu; the share of Christians in the undivided Chengalpattu district has risen from 2.35 percent in 1951 to 6.35 percent in 2011.

The number and share of Muslims in Tamil Nadu is almost similar to the Christians. But they are spread even more uniformly across the State. Their highest concentration is in Ramanathapuram, where they form 15.4 percent of the population.

Tamil Nadu is one of the rare States where Christians have grown faster than the Muslims in the period following Independence. Between 1951 and 2011, the number of Christians has risen from 14.3 to 44.2 lakh, while that of Muslims has grown from 14.4 to 42.3 lakh. In the same period, the share of Muslims in the population has grown from 4.79 to 5.86 percent and of the Christians from 4.74 to 6.12 percent.

Tamil Nadu is also unusual in having several districts and many more taluks with considerable presence of both Christians and Muslims. In general, the areas of high presence of these two communities tend to be different. In conformity with that trend, the share of Muslims in Kanniyakumari—where Christians have a very high and rapidly growing presence—is low.   


Religious Demography of Tamil Nadu

Religious Demography of Tamil Nadu, 2001-11

Numbers
Percent Share
%GR
2001
2011
2001
2011
2001-11
Total
6,24,05,679
7,21,47,030
100.00
100.00
15.61
Hindu
5,49,85,079
6,31,88,168
88.11
87.58
14.92
Muslim
34,70,647
42,29,479
5.56
5.86
21.86
Christian
37,85,060
44,18,331
6.07
6.12
16.73
Sikh
9,545
14,601
0.02
0.02
52.97
Buddhist
5,393
11,186
0.01
0.02
107.42
Jain
83,359
89,265
0.13
0.12
7.09
ORP
7,252
7,414
0.01
0.01
2.23
RNS
59,344
1,88,586
0.10
0.26
217.78

Tamil Nadu has the second largest number of Christians
There are 44 lakh Christians counted in Tamil Nadu in 2011. This is the second largest number of Christians in any State after Kerala. The number of Christians in the latter State is 61 lakh. Thus, of about 2.8 crore Christians in India, more than a crore are in these two States forming the southernmost tip of India.

Share of Christians in Tamil Nadu is also the highest among the major States
The share of Christians in the population of Tamil Nadu works out to be 6.1 percent. This is far lower than their share of 18.4 percent in Kerala, but is still the second highest of all major States of India. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya in the northeast, and five other smaller States and UTs, namely, Sikkim, Goa, Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands have a higher share of Christians than Tamil Nadu.

Growth of Christians and Muslims in Tamil Nadu

Share of both Christians and Muslims has risen slowly
Growth of Christians and Muslims, 1951-2001

Number
%Share
Christians
Muslims
C
M
1951
14,27,382
14,42,935
4.74
4.79
1961
17,62,954
15,60,414
5.23
4.63
1971
23,67,749
21,03,899
5.75
5.11
1981
27,98,048
25,19,947
5.78
5.21
1991
31,79,410
30,52,717
5.69
5.47
2001
37,85,060
34,70,647
6.07
5.56
2011
44,18,331
42,29,479
6.12
5.86
Christians and Muslims both have a share of around 6 percent in the population of Tamil Nadu, and the share of both has grown slowly to this level from somewhat less than 5 percent in 1951. There were around 14.3 lakh Christians and 14.4 lakh Muslims in the State in 1951; their numbers in 2011 are 44.2 and 42.3 lakh, respectively. Christians have multiplied by a factor of 3.10 and Muslims by 2.93 in this period, while the total population has multiplied by a considerably lower factor of 2.40. The share of Christians has therefore increased from 4.74 to 6.12 percent and that of Muslims from 4.79 to 5.86 percent.

Growth of Christians has been faster than the Muslims
Decadal Percent Growth
Decade
T
C
M
1951-61
11.85
23.51
8.14
1961-71
22.30
34.31
34.83
1971-81
17.50
18.17
19.78
1981-91
15.39
13.63
21.14
1991-01
11.72
19.05
13.69
2001-11
15.61
16.73
21.86
Contrary to the trend of other major States of India, overall growth of Christians in Tamil Nadu has been somewhat higher than that of Muslims in the six decades since Independence. As seen in the Table here, this difference in the growth of the two has arisen mainly because of the extraordinarily low growth of Muslims during 1951-61. Muslims experienced a relatively lower growth again during 1991-2001. Except for these two decades, the decadal growth of Muslims has been faster than that of Christians. During 2001-11, they have grown by 21.86 percent compared to the growth of 16.73 percent of Christians and 15.61 percent of the total population.





These differences in growth have, of course, led to changes in the share of the two communities in the total population of Tamil Nadu; the figure here graphically depicts the changing percentage shares of the two communities since 1951 and the relatively higher overall growth of Christians in this period.





Distribution of Christians across the districts
As seen in the Map here, Christians in Tamil Nadu have a presence of more than two and a half percent in all districts, except Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Salem, Namakkal, Karur and Perambalur; these 7 districts seem to form a distinct pocket located mainly in the northwest of the State. In the rest of the State, Christians have a non-negligible presence everywhere, yet they are particularly concentrated in five distinct pockets. Below, we discuss the presence and growth of Christians in these pockets of Christian concentration:

Thiruvallur-Chennai- Kancheepuram Pocket in the North

Chennai city and surrounding districts form this pocket
This pocket comprising Chennai city and the two surrounding districts of Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram accommodates 8.5 lakh of the total 44.2 lakh Christians in the State. Their share in Chennai is 7.7 percent and it is above 6 percent in the other two districts.

Christian share has grown rapidly in this pocket especially after 1991
%Share of Christians
Cheng
Chen
1951
2.15
7.78
1961
2.64
6.90
1971
4.09
6.63
1981
4.54
6.72
1991
4.55
6.38
2001
6.04
7.63
2011
6.35
7.72
Chen: Chennai, Cheng:
Chengalpattu district
As seen in the Table here, the share of Christians in Chennai city district was declining up to 1991; it experienced a sudden spurt during 1991-2001 and there has been some rise again in the last decade.  Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur together formed the district of Chengalpattu up to 1991. In this composite district, the share of Christians has risen from 2.15 percent in 1951 to 6.35 percent in 2011. The rise has been consistent and continuous, but it has been assisted by two large spurts; the share of Christians rose from 2.64 to 4.09 percent during 1961-71 and again from 4.55 to 6.04 percent during 1991-2001.



Christian Concentration is high in Chennai city and surrounding taluks
As seen in the map of the share of Christians in the taluks of these three districts, the Christians here are concentrated in Chennai and in the taluks immediately adjoining the city. Thus, the share of Christians in Mathavaram, Poonamallee and Ambattur of Thiruvallur is 8.95, 8.53 and 7.63 percent respectively; and it is 10.99, 9.99 and 8.96 percent, respectively, in Tambaram, Alandur and Sholinganallur taluks of Kancheepuram. For all purposes, excepting those of administrative demarcation, these six taluks form part of Chennai city. Christian presence is also high in Thiruvallur, Sriperumbudur and Chengalpattu, which form the next ring of taluks around Chennai city. The share of Christians is surprisingly high also in Uttiramerur, a farther taluk of Kancheepuram. Uttiramerur town, the headquarters of this taluk, is an ancient city renowned for its tanks, temples and town-architecture and for popular institutions elected through a formal polling process that is inscribed on the walls of one of the earliest temples.




Thanjavur-Tiruchirappalli-Dindigul Pocket in the middle

Christians have a significant presence in the heart of Tamil Nadu
There are another 5.5 lakh Christians in these three districts that lie in the middle and form the cultural centre of the State. Their share is the highest in Tiruchirappalli at 9 percent; they have a share of 7.9 percent in Dindigul and 5.6 percent in Thanjavur.

Christian presence in this pocket has remained relatively stable
Christian presence in this region has remained more or less stable over the last several decades. Long time-series data is available only for the composite Thiruchirappalli-Thanjavur-Pudukkottai region, which includes the current districts of Ariyalur, Perambalur, Karur, Pudukkottai, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam. In the region comprising these, Christians formed 4.01 percent of the population in 1951; their share increased to 4.97 percent in 1981 and has remained around that figure since then. Dindigul was carved out of Madurai after 1981 and Theni was formed after 1991. In composite Madurai district, the share of Christians has risen slowly from 3.29 percent in 1951 to 4.74 percent in 2001 and has remained unchanged during the last decade.  Dindigul district, however, has seen some rise in the Christian share from 7.57 to 7.87 percent during 2001-11.

Within this pocket Christians are concentrated in several sub-pockets
Within this large pocket, there are several sub-pockets with much higher presence of Christians than the average. Thus, Lalgudi, Tiruchirappalli and Thiruverumbur taluks of Thiruchirappalli and Thiruvaiyaru and Thanjavur taluk of Thanjavur district form a compact sub-pocket in which the share of Christians is above 10 percent in every taluk; in Lalgudi and Thiruverambur it is as high as 18.2 and 14.6 percent, respectively. Then there is Manapparai of Thiruchirappalli with Christian presence of 11.3 percent. Kodaikanal, Attur and Dindigul form another sup-pocket of contiguous taluks in each of which the share of Christians is above 10 percent. In Kodaikanal, their share is as high as 17.4 percent. In the Map above, we have also included Theni and Pudukkottai, which have some taluks with high Christian presence.

Nilgiris-Coimbatore Pocket in the West

Christian presence is high in the Nilgiris
There are more than 4 lakh Christians in this pocket. Their share in the population of the Nilgiris disrict is 11.5 percent. In Coimbatore, it is lower at 5.5 percent, but is much higher in some of the taluks of this district. 

Christians have a high presence in nearly all taluks of the Nilgiris
As seen in the map here of the share of Christians in the taluks of this pocket, Christian presence is above 10 percent in 4 of the 6 taluks in the Nilgiris, and in Kotagiri taluk it is 8.7 percent. Only in Kundah taluk of this district, the share of Christians is rather small. The share of Christians is also high at 13.5 percent in Valparai taluk of Coimbatore also, though this taluk is not contiguous with the Nilgiris.

Christian presence in this pocket has been rising since 1991
%Share of Christians
N
C
1981
12.17
3.04
1991
11.04
2.98
2001
11.45
3.52
2011
11.51
3.86
N: Nilgiris, C: Comp
Coimbatore
The growth of Christians in the Nilgiris has been quite erratic during the last several decades. But, as seen in the Table here, their share has risen consistently during the last two decades. Erode and Thiruppur have been carved out of Coimbatore recently. Longer time-series data is available for this composite district; the share of Christians in this district has also grown consistently and considerably during the last couple of decades.


Sivaganga-Ramanathapuram pocket in the southeast

Share of Christians is high in Ramanathapuram district
There are about 1.7 lakh Christians in these two districts in the southeast. Their share in Sivaganga is 5.6 percent 7.6 percent in Ramanathapuram.


But their presence is high in several taluks of both districts
As seen in the Map here, within this pocket there is a sub-pocket comprising three contiguous taluks—Devakottai and Ilayangudi of Sivaganga and Thiruvadanai of Ramanathapuram—in each of which the share of Christians is above 10 percent. The share of Christians in this pocket is, however, the highest in the holy island of Rameswaram, where they form 27.5 percent of the population.

Share of Christians in this pocket has somewhat declined since 1991
%Share of Christians
S
R
1991
6.04
7.22
2001
5.86
7.08
2011
5.64
6.73
S: Sivaganga,
R: Ramanathapuram
The share of Christians in this pocket seems to have somewhat declined over the last couple of decades. In Sivaganga, their share was 6.04 percent in 1991; it is 5.64 percent now. In Ramanathapuram, their share has declined from 7.22 percent in 1991 to 6.73 percent now.



Thirunelveli-Thoothukkudi-Kanniyakumari pocket in the south

Christians have their highest concentration here
These three districts on the southernmost tip of India constitute a pocket of the highest Christian concentration in Tamil Nadu. Of 44 lakh Christians counted in the State in 2011, 15 lakh are in this pocket. Their share in the population of Thirunelveli, Thoothukkudi and Kanniyakumari is 11.1, 16.7 and 46.9 percent, respectively.

Christian concentration in some of the taluks is even higher
As seen in the Map below of the share of Christians in the taluks of this pocket, the share of Christians is above 20 percent in the coastal taluks of Thoothukkudi, Tiruchendur, Sathankulam and Radhapuram of Thoothukkudi district; in Sathankulam, the share of Christians is as high as 35.9 percent. Their share is above 30 percent in all four taluks of Kanniyakumari, and in two of these—Vilavancode and Kalkulam—the share of Christians is as high as 58.4 and 52.2 percent, respectively.

Share of Christians has been growing slowly in Tirunelveli-Thoothukkudi
The share of Christians in Tirunelveli-Thoothukkudi part of this pocket has been growing slowly over the last several decades; in the composite Tirunelveli district, which includes Thoothukkudi, the share of Christians has risen from 11.7 percent in 1951 to 12.34 percent in 1981 and 13.14 percent in 2011.

Share of Christians in Kanniyakumari has been rising very rapidly

The Rising Number and Share of Christians in Kanniyakumari District, 1921-2011
Year
1921
1931
1941
1951
1961
1971
1981
1991
2001
2011
Number
 1,51,496
 1,94,756
 2,21,737
 2,87,100
 3,67,800
 4,75,600
 5,51,900
 6,77,676
 7,45,406
 8,76,299
%Share
30.66
33.47
32.75
34.74
36.89
38.89
38.78
42.35
44.47
46.85

In Kanniyakumari district of this pocket, however, there has been a very rapid rise in the number and share of Christians. Between 1921 and 2011, the number of Christians in this district has risen from 1.5 to 8.8 lakhs, and their share in the population has grown from by more than 16 percentage points, from 30.7 to 46.9 percent. In general, there has been an accretion of 2 percentage points to their share in every decade. The pattern was broken only in 1931-41 and in 1971-81, when there was some decrease in the share of Christians. The decrease of 1971-81 was, however, made up in the next decade, when there was an unusually high accretion of 3.6 percentage points in their share.

Christian growth has been even faster in some of the Taluks
%Share of Christians
V
K

46.14
43.49
1981
45.95
43.16
1991
50.96
47.68
2001
56.09
49.23
2011
58.45
52.17
V: Vilavancode Taluk
K: Kalakulam Taluk
The growth of Christians has been even faster in Vilavancode and Kalkulam, the two taluks where the Christians are now in a majority. In the former, the share of Christians has risen from 46 percent in 1981 to 58.5 percent in 2011; an accretion of 12.5 percentage points in three decades. In the latter, the rise has been from 43.2 percent in 1981 to 52.2 percent in 2011. In both these taluks, even the absolute number of Indian Religionists had declined in the previous decade of 1991-2001. The decline could be attributed to either conversion to Christianity or forced migration out of these taluks. In the last decade of 2001-11, the number of Indian Religionists has registered some increase in these two taluks, though the share of Christians has increased by more than 2 percentage points in both.



Muslims in Tamil Nadu

As we have seen at the beginning of this note, the number and share of Christians and Muslims in Tamil Nadu is almost similar. The rise in the share of both has also been relatively slow; but, the share of Musims has grown even slower than the Christians, though during 2001-11, the growth of the former has been considerably higher.

Distribution of Muslims across the districts of Tamil Nadu
Contrary to the pattern in much of the country, there are several districts in Tamil Nadu where both Muslims and Christians have a considerable presence. As seen in the Map above of the share of Muslims in the districts of Tamil Nadu, Muslim presence is near or above 10 percent in Chennai, the Nilgiris, Ramanathapuram and Tirunelveli, all of which, as we have seen, have a relatively high presence of Christians. Muslims also have a relatively high share in Thanjavur-Thiruchirappalli region, which is also a pocket of high Christian presence. Besides these, Muslims have a high share of 10.5 percent in Vellore.


Distribution of Muslims across the sub-districts (taluks) of Tamil Nadu
As may be seen from the map of the share of Muslims in the taluks, the correspondence between the high Muslim and Christian presence persists in many cases at this level also.



Taluks with Muslim share of above 10 percent
Taluks with Muslim share of above 10 percent
District
Taluk
C
M
Ramanathapuram
Ramanathapuram
2.30
27.61
The Nilgiris
Gudalur
11.95
26.89
Pudukkottai
Manamelkudi
8.23
26.43
Tirunelveli
Shenkottai
2.59
24.98
Vellore
Ambur
3.83
21.87
Karur
Aravakurichi
1.43
19.47
Vellore
Vaniyambadi
1.02
19.31
Thiruvarur
Needamangalam
2.92
18.03
The Nilgiris
Panthalur
10.61
17.83
Tirunelveli
Tenkasi
4.48
17.58
Sivaganga
Ilayangudi
12.37
17.56
Ramanathapuram
Tiruvadanai
12.18
17.52
Ramanathapuram
Kadaladi
7.62
17.29
Nagapattinam 
Nagapattinam
2.90
16.72
Tirunelveli
Tirunelveli
10.78
16.09
Vellore
Gudiyatham
2.04
15.86
Tiruchirappalli
Tiruchirappalli
10.89
14.68
Thanjavur
Papanasam
4.39
14.20
Thoothukkudi
Tiruchendur
21.88
13.38
Vellore
Wallajah
2.69
12.88
Pudukkottai
Avudayarkoil
9.84
12.50
Vellore
Vellore
3.68
11.44
Cuddalore
Kattumannarkoil
6.78
10.60
Thanjavur
Pattukkottai
3.85
10.50
There are in all 24 taluks in which the share of Muslims is above 10 percent and in 5 of these their share is above 20 percent. The highest Muslim presence of 27.6 percent is in Ramanathapuram taluk of the district with the same name; Christian presence in this taluk is low at just 2.3 percent. But, Muslim presence is high in Tiruvadanai and Kadaladi of this district also at 17.5 and 17.3 percent, respectively; these two have a considerable Christian presence of 12.2 and 7.6 percent. The second highest Muslim presence of 26.9 percent in the State is in Gudalur of the Nilgiris; this taluk also has a considerable Christian presence of about 12 percent. There are of course many taluks with high Muslim but negligible Christian presence. But it is indeed remarkable that of the 24 taluks with Muslim share of more than 10 percent, 7 also have Christian presence of above 10 percent and there are another 4 with Christian presence between 5 and 10 percent.







Taluks with Christian presence of more than 10 percent
It is interesting to also look at the 35 taluks with Christian presence of above 10 percent; among these, there are only 7 that have Muslim presence of above 10 percent, but there are another 13 with Muslim presence of between 5 and 10 percent.

Taluks with Christian share of above 13 percent

Taluks with Christian share of between 10 to 13 percent
District
Taluk
C
M

District
Taluk
C
M
Kanniyakumari
Vilavancode
58.45
2.48

Sivaganga
Ilayangudi
12.37
17.56
Kanniyakumari
Kalkulam
52.17
4.81

Ramanathapuram
Tiruvadanai
12.18
17.52
Thoothukkudi
Sathankulam
35.94
1.78

The Nilgiris
Gudalur
11.95
26.89
Kanniyakumari
Agastheeswaram
31.91
4.95

Tirunelveli
Alangulam
11.87
0.48
Kanniyakumari
Thovala
31.71
6.19

Thanjavur
Thiruvaiyaru
11.76
6.49
Tirunelveli
Radhapuram
27.73
2.47

Tirunelveli
Veerakeralamputhur
11.46
5.01
Ramanathapuram
Rameswaram
27.47
7.80

The Nilgiris
Udhagamandalam
11.45
7.64
Thoothukkudi
Thoothukkudi
24.63
3.44

Tiruchirappalli
Manapparai
11.26
5.02
Thoothukkudi
Tiruchendur
21.88
13.38

Kancheepuram
Tambaram
10.99
5.17
Tiruchirappalli
Lalgudi
18.19
3.31

Tiruchirappalli
Tiruchirappalli
10.89
14.68
Tirunelveli
Nanguneri
18.10
6.79

Thoothukkudi
Srivaikuntam
10.86
6.04
Dindigul
Kodaikanal
17.36
4.67

Thoothukkudi
Ottapidaram
10.81
0.37
The Nilgiris
Coonoor
16.49
5.89

Tirunelveli
Tirunelveli
10.78
16.09
Tirunelveli
Palayamkottai
15.99
2.79

Tirunelveli
Ambasamudram
10.68
8.72
Dindigul
Dindigul
15.00
6.20

The Nilgiris
Panthalur
10.61
17.83
Tiruchirappalli
Thiruverumbur
14.57
5.91

Sivaganga
Devakottai
10.59
4.19
Coimbatore
Valparai
13.51
3.47

Dindigul
Attur
10.52
4.32





Thanjavur
Thanjavur
10.38
5.41



















This makes Tamil Nadu perhaps the only State where Muslims and Christians both have a substantial presence in several districts and taluks.


Summing up

1. Tamil Nadu has the second largest number of Christians in the country after Kerala. In 2011, there are 44 lakh Christians in Tamil Nadu and 61 lakh in Kerala. These two southernmost States of India thus accommodate more than a crore of the total 2.8 crore Christians in the country.
2. The share of Christians in Tamil Nadu is 6.1 percent, which is also the second highest among the major States of India, though the proportion of Christians is higher in some of the smaller States and Union Territories, including some in the northeast.
3. The share of Christians in the State has been growing slowly since 1951, when they had a share of 4.7 percent in the population.
4. Christians in Tamil Nadu are concentrated in several pockets spread across the State. These include a pocket around Chennai city in the north; another comprising parts of Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli and Dindigul in the middle; the Nilgiris and parts of Coimbatore in the west; Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram in the southeast; and, Tirunelveli, Thoothukkudi and Kanniyakumari in the south.
5. Of the pockets of high Christian concentration, the most intense is that around Kanniyakumari. The share of Christians in Kanniyakumari district has grown steadily for several decades and has increased by more than 16 percentage points between 1921 and 2001. Christians now form a near majority in the district with a share of 46.9 percent.
6. The northern pocket around Chennai city has also been witnessing considerable growth in the share of Christians. In the composite Chengalpattu district, which has been divided into the two districts of Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram that surround Chennai, the share of Christians has risen from 2.2 percent in 1951 to 6.4 percent now in 2011. Chengalpattu has seen major spurts in the Christian presence during 1961-71 and 1991-2001.
7. The number and share of Muslims in Tamil Nadu is nearly equal to that of Christians. They have their pockets of high concentration in the eastern coastal taluks of Ramanathapuram and Pudukkottai, in some western taluks of Tirunelveli bordering Kerala, in Vellore in the north and in the Nilgiris in the west.
8. In Ramanathapuram taluk of Ramanathapuram, Manamelkudi taluk of Pudukkottai, Shenkottai of Tirunelveli and Gudalur of the Nilgiris, the share of Muslims is between 25 and 28 percent and it is about 22 percent in Ambur of Vellore district.
8. Overall growth in the share of Muslims in Tamil Nadu since 1951 has been less than that of Christians. But, there has been a visible spurt in their growth during 2001-11.
9. The presence of Christians and Muslims in Tamil Nadu, like in Kerala, has historical antecedents. But, much of the growth in their presence in Tamil Nadu, as also in Kerala, seems to have occurred during the British period and in the period of Independent India. Unfortunately, we have not so far invested much effort in documenting the history of growth of these communities in this strategically and civilisationally important part of India. The data that we have compiled above provides the basis as well as the rationale for undertaking such historical studies in a systematic manner.

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