A new "Indianised" Bible will include ancient Hindu texts and references to Mahatma Gandhi as well as pictures of Mary in a sari and Joseph in a turban.
The EarthTimes reports the new bible is soon to be published by the Catholic Church in Kerala state.
The book, which has been approved by the Catholic Bishop's Conference of India, is the product of a project taken up in 1990 by a team of 30 Biblical scholars, the Times of India says.
The new version is an attempt to encourage contextual reading and understanding of the Bible, Church spokesman Paul Thelakat told reporters.
"The Biblical texts remain the same but verses from the Vedas and Upanishads (ancient Hindu religious texts) have been used to interpret Christian teachings," he said.
The "Indian" Bible has at least 70 references to the Bhagwad Gita, Mira Bai (a medieval queen from Rajasthan who composed lyrics in praise of the Hindu god Krishna), Mahatma Gandhi and the Nobel Prize winning poet Rabindranath Tagore's work.
Most of these references pertain to the spiritual message and Biblical values found in scriptures of other Indian religions, Archbishop Sosa Pakiam says in his preface to the book.
The experiment does not mean the Church accepts the teachings of Hindu scriptures, Thelakat said.
"We are merely adapting them to Christian teachings wherever we feel there are points of harmony." He gives as an example how the book mentions Mira Bai's couplets in praise of Lord Krishna to illustrate Mary Magdalene's sentiments for the resurrected Jesus.
The "Indian" Bible has 24 line drawings including those of a mosque and temple and is to be published by a Mumbai based Christian publishing house.
Turbaned Joseph, sari-clad Mary to appear in 'Indianized' Bible (Earth Times, 6/8/08)