AHMEDABAD — Like Christians everywhere, we rolled out of bed on this Sunday morning, hit alarms, stumbled towards the coffee and, seeking inspiration, went to church.

Our eleven days in India has been a series of visits from one house of worship to another. But today, our final day in India, was the first time we attended a Christian Church. Given that only 2 percent of India is Christian, the timing seemed somewhat appropriate.

We attended two Christian services: the high Anglican Dalit Church and the Mar Thoma Syrian Orthodox church, both in the Christian district of Ahmedabad called Behrampura. The Anglican church service was packed, housed in a sanctuary with dusty pink walls. A wooden cross hung high on the wall behind the preacher but the decorations were simple. Most of the color in the room came from the saris of the women in the congregation, with white lace scarves over their hair. On their laps, under folded hands, lay personal bibles in Gujarati.

We arrived as the sermon was underway, removed our shoes and made our way to the balcony. Overhead fans stirred the hot air. The minister was dressed simply, with a white cassock and a red stole around his neck.

From the moment we slip off our shoes and step into the church, we notice similarities between the church and other houses of worship we visited: Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Zoroastrian. Here, as elsewhere, the women wear saris, barefoot children wander around the balcony and the music is Indian in tone if Christian in message. At one point in the service, church members hold their bibles aloft as a physical representation and reminder of the power of Christ in their lives.

A short walk from the Anglican church, down a sunny street lined with bottle brush trees, we find a Syrian Mar Thoma Church. It too is packed with Sunday worshippers. The pews are filled, and so are benches set outside. As children and men stand on steps and outside the windows, a group of young men make lemonade outside.

In front of the congregation, the priest wears full vestments. Many of the church members are from Kerala, and their families came to Ahmedabad “for a better life,” as 25-year-old Jibin Jose puts it.

Jose is one of the young men mixing lemonade in a giant metal pot behind the church. The drink will be served as a refreshment after the service. Jose was born in Ahmedabad and grew up here. He speaks Hindi, Gujarati, Malayalam, and a little English, and says that he comes to church every Sunday because this is his community.

After the church services, most of us returned to the Hyatt for their special Sunday brunch. It was also the last meal for our group in India. As the afternoon wore on, students wrapped up this phase of their reporting and returned to their rooms to pack. About half of class had plans to spend a few more days in India before returning to New York. As evening fell, the other half got on our bus for the ride to the Ahmedabad airport. Professors Goldman and Trivedi saw us off at the airport.

As our trip comes to an end, memories of the previous ten days are starting to blend together like Holi colors washing down the drain. Reflecting back on what we’ve seen — and the thousands of photos we’ve taken — Emily says that this has been “one of the most profound learning experiences of my life. Not just for the study of religion and journalism, but also for the study of people, those that I came here with and those that I’ve met in India.”

Elizabeth said that the trip surpassed her expectations. “I knew I was going to see and experience amazing and new things but I didn’t know how much it would change me and the way that I look at the world.” After reporting from India, she’s encouraged to look for a job outside of the U.S. and continue to explore the religious themes that the class investigated. “Religion drives the world and this realization has made me a better reporter,” she said.

From the ashrams to the temples to the churches to the rickshaws, the Indians we’ve met have been so incredibly welcoming and instructive. We only hope that we can tell their stories well.

Photo by Ana Singh