London, July 26 : With the picture of a sari-clad Virgin Mary and a loincloth and turban-clad Joseph in the first "Indianised" Bible, the Vatican is hoping to attract more people into turning to the Catholic church in India - as congregations decline in Europe and North America.
And the news comes straight from the mouth of Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Mumbai, who released The New Community Bible during a recent ceremony.
"I am sure this Bible, made in India and for Indians, will bring the word of God closer to millions of our people, not only Christians," Times Online quoted him, as saying.
Produced by the Society of St Paul, this is the first of its kind Bible that has been penned in simplified English.
It includes 27 sketches, most of them of typical Indian scenes such as a family in a slum beneath skyscrapers. Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa.
In addition, it also carries quotes from Hindu scriptures, like the Ramayana and Mahabharata, to explain Christianity to prospective converts.
"We wanted to show the parallels between the themes in the Bible and in Indian religions. We've put the sacred text in a local context," said Father Tony Charanghat, a spokesman for the Archbishop.
Christianity is now the third-largest religion in India - after Hinduism and Islam - with 24 million followers, of which 17 million are Catholics.
That the books are proving to be a hit lies in the fact that the 30,000 books that were published in Mumbai sold out within a week. In Delhi too, St Paul's bookshop has only a few copies left.