Merry Christmas from Mother India

Celebrations at churches across the country this Christmas Day will be marked by lit trees and candles, hymns and carols, cakes and cookies. And, in some cases, extra security.
As Christian migrants flock in large numbers from states such as Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and Tamil Nadu to urban centres, many are finding it hard to leave behind fears of religious discrimination. At least 200 cases of attacks against Christians for their faith have been reported across the country this year, as per the newly formed Christian Legal Association (CLA).
At Christmas Eve services in Orissa, a mob allegedly led by a leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) shot at two Christian children to protest celebrations by a church in the Kandhamal district. “The RSS leader instigated local residents and led a mob of more than 100 people carrying sticks and guns to attack the Christians indiscriminately,” parish priest Rabi Sudhasundar of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, told the Indo-Asian News Service.
While such incidents are mainly in smaller towns and villages, the lawyers group notes an increase in cities.
Having a ball: Rev. Vincent Paul with underprivileged children at a community centre in New Delhi. (Ramesh Pathania / Mint)
Having a ball: Rev. Vincent Paul with underprivileged children at a community centre in New Delhi. (Ramesh Pathania / Mint)
In New Delhi, home to an estimated 1.3 million Christians, the minority community has been shaken by at least two incidents  in  recent months.
On the morning of 5 December, at least 100 men entered the Church of Divine Mercy in Pitampura, north Delhi. The men destroyed a generator and machinery, and were overheard shouting, “Church, no church here.” The police are yet to trace the offenders, said a church member who did not want his name mentioned. Police confirmed the incident and said they have dispatched officers on a regular basis to ensure worshippers’ peace.
“There is a general fear among Christians,” says Ivan Moses, a pastor at the Delhi Bible Fellowship. “Although they are celebrating Christmas, it’s not easy.”
On the evening of 28 October, Moses said, four men broke into the Kalyanpuri community hall in east Delhi. A spiritual talk was in progress and about 200 people, including women and children, belonging to several independent church groups, had gathered, when the men started breaking chairs and pelting stones as they yelled: “Jai Shri Ram.”
Moses, who was one of the speakers that evening, says he was slapped four times. A few of the miscreants were arrested after the police arrived. Church members say they were accused of handing out flyers to convert Hindus, but deny the allegations.
They decided not to press formal charges, however, as “we did not want the local pastors to be in trouble,” said Moses. Local police confirmed the incident.

Christians Attacked after Voting for the Wrong Political Party in Gujarat, India print this articlePrint this Article

Christians Attacked by the RSS after Voting for the 'Wrong' Political Party in Gujarat, India

12/24/07 India .- Shortly after campaigning for Hindu fanatic party in the run up to the state legislature election in Gujarat state, Hindu extremists attacked tribal Christians, including a nun, to punish them for supporting the Congress Party.

The attack took place at around 8 p.m. on December 19 in Baidiya village in Vadodara district’s Kawant area while staffs and students of the Don Bosco School and Adivasi Shaishanik Arogya Kendra (Tribal Education and Health Centre) were staging a play on environmental issues for the villagers.

“This is not just an attack on a minority religion, but it is a part of a wider conspiracy to deny human rights and fundamental rights (religious and voting rights) to the Adivasis (tribal or aboriginal people), create division among them, and keep alive the divisive agenda in order to fish in the troubled waters,” Dr. John Dayal, president of the All India Catholic Union, told ICC.

Joseph Monty Rodrigues, the manager of the Don Bosco School described the attack, saying, “As the children were staging the play, one Rathwa Harsingbhai Mansingbhai rushed in and removed the curtain forcefully and hit one of the students of Class IX, Suresh Narubhai Rathwa, on the head.”

Later, another person, identified as Rathwa Pravinbhai, joined Mansingbhai to oppose the play.

Rodrigues gave a first person account in an email message, a copy of which is with ICC.

“They (the miscreants) said the Fathers and Sisters of Don Bosco were supporters of the Congress Party and therefore they must not step into this village. They insulted us and our religion and abused us for being Christians,” said Rodrigues.

At least 500 villagers were watching the play, which was organized by the Christians on an invitation by the village court.

The two miscreants also threatened to burn the Christians alive.

“Apprehending more tensions, we stopped the play at once and packed up our things,” added Rodrigues.

While the Christians were returning, some more people came to attack them.

“We left for Kawant via the Keladra-Pipalda road around 9:30 p.m. While passing from the Sim Segva stream near Keladra, a blue tempo came towards us to knock the motorbike being ridden by our staffs Madubhai Rathwa and Bharsingbhai Rathwa. But, somehow, they managed to escape. The tempo then tried to hit the jeep in which I was sitting.”

There were around 15 people carrying sticks and rods in the tempo. They stopped the vehicles and hit Madubhai Rathwa. Then they dragged the school students out of the other jeep and beat Fr. Damien Sladen, who was accompanying the children. Fr. Sladen was beaten till he fell unconscious.

The tempo was being driven by a person identified as Nangarsing Rathwa.

The miscreants also took away a laptop that was kept in the jeep besides vandalizing the vehicle.

Then the attackers came to the jeep in which Fr. Rodrigues, nun Sr. Manjula, and a few girl students were sitting.

The miscreants held Sr. Manjula’s neck and hand and tried to pull her out. Then they grabbed her scarf and shawl, and pulled her sari (an Indian wrap-around dress for women). They tore her blouse and banged her against the jeep twice and threw her down. They also grabbed her purse and mobile phone, and broke her silver chain.

The attackers also pulled out four girls from the jeep, but Sr. Manjula managed to rescue them and herself, and ran away. In the meantime, even Fr. Rodrigues could escape driving the jeep away.

“I went to the Kawant police station at 11:30 pm and informed the police, who came along with me to the place of the incident, where we found Fr. Damien injured and four girls, and also Sr. Manjula. All of them were crying,” aid Fr. Rodrigues.

The victims were admitted to a hospital.

The police did register a complaint against the attackers, but with initial reluctance.

In the meanwhile, a Hindu extremist sage, Jagat Guru Acharya Narendra Maharaj, led the alleged “reconversion” of around 2,000 tribal (aboriginal) Christians in a function on December 17 in Gujarat state’s Tapi district.

According to The Indian Express Newspaper, the function took place at the Shivaji Grounds area.

The “converts” took an oath and admitted affidavits saying they would not convert to Christianity ever again in the future, said the newspaper.

“Many of the tribal men also cut off their hair and took oaths, while all of them gave thumb impressions on the affidavits saying they have willingly returned to the folds of the Hindu religion,” added the daily.

Christian leaders say such reconversion claims are false, as extremist groups gather poor and illiterate tribal people, who are not Christians in the first place, and portray the rally as a reconversion function.

According to media reports, groups associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of numerous Hindu extremist groups and the chief persecutor of Christians in India, sought votes for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister, Narendra Modi, to strengthen “Hindu forces” in the state. The BJP is a Hindu nationalist party and political wing of the RSS. (See ICC report dated December 18, “Indian Party Promises to Persecute Christians in order to Gain Votes.)

The assembly polls to the 182-member assembly in Gujarat concluded on December 16. The counting of the votes will begin on December 23.

“It looks as if they (RSS) want to create terror and communal tension before the vote counting and during the Christmas celebrations. The rumors are that the BJP is preparing to create trouble for Christians during the Christmas and this is just the beginning,” added Dayal.

Attack on churches
Attempt to terrorise a whole community

WHILE the people the world over were celebrating Christmas on December 25, the Christians in Orissa’s Kandhamal district were at the receiving end with alleged activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad destroying church after church. In the mindless violence unleashed on the community, one person was killed and several were injured. The attack was ostensibly to retaliate against the alleged manhandling of a VHP leader. That the VHP chose to convert some Christians to Hinduism on that day bears out that the whole purpose was to foment trouble. Orissa is one state where the so-called Freedom of Religion law is in force which makes it obligatory for the organisers of such conversion ceremonies to follow certain procedures. That the VHP has been paying scant regard for such a law on the specious plea that what it organises is not conversion but “home-coming”.

Despite all the potential for mischief, the district authorities failed to take any preemptive action. What’s more, they could not even protect the house of a minister from the communally surcharged lot. It is not the first time that Orissa has witnessed religious tension. The burning of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons was preceded by several incidents of attack on the minorities in the name of protest against cow slaughter and religious conversion. It is the kid-glove treatment those behind such violent campaigns received that emboldened them to burn the missionary who was tending to the leprosy patients in one of the most backward areas of Orissa. There are feudal and pseudo-political forces that do not want the poor to get educated and know their legal and democratic rights for fear it would upset the caste-based social system.

The Orissa government is duty-bound to take stringent action against all those who desecrated the churches. It should also go after those who “attacked” the VHP leader and bring them to book. No excuse is good enough to terrorise a whole community. In fact, any leniency shown will be construed as a failure of the state to protect not just the life and property of the people but also their right to preach and practise their religious beliefs. What the Orissa government does in Kandhamal district will show how committed it is to uphold the rule of law and the religious rights of the people.


Anonymous said...


Spiritual Inquiry with Khanda & Heart


Handsworth Mela – dishonour, behzti – is this the state of Sikhi???

“Jin Bhe adab na baani dhara, jano so sikh nehi hamara”

“ He who has no fear or respect of Gurbani, know that he is not my Sikh.”

(Extract from Sikh Rehatnama)

BEADBI (intentional and unintentional disrespect) of Maharaaj Guru Granth Sahib jee is something that as Sikhs we cannot, and will not tolerate. Currently there is general unrest in the Sikh youth as more importance has been placed on this issue from Sikhs worldwide over recent years.

We don’t take Guru Maharaaj into halls, hotels, pubs and clubs because of our love and respect for Guru ji, but then why do we take maharaaj into tents which have previously been used for similar or unknown purposes. The tents and carpets used for Maharaaj’s Darbar at the Handswoth mela are hired. Who knows what takes place in that tent before we as the Sikhs use it for our darbar.

Even maharaaj Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s horse would not enter a field where tobacco was planted. Yet we annually take saroop’s of Maharaaj Guru Granth Sahib Ji in to an environment where tobacco stubs litter the ground and where people enter under the intoxication of various substances, be it unintentionally, this is something that must be evaluated and changed as there is continued discontent in the Sikh youth.

Do you think it is acceptable to take Maharaaj into areas with rave type atmospheres, loud and noisy music, rides, with inappropriate social interaction, with a non-existent dress code, where people smoke and drink. The problem lies not with the mela in principle but whether or not we are showing true respect for Guru jee if people are all out enjoying themselves. This isn’t even taking into account the recent bad publicity we have received from last years detrimental shenanigans with the “Sikh on Sikh” violence. Just type “vaisakhi mela” and “BBC” into and see the negative social profiling of Sikhs in the media coverage as well as the camera phone videos of bhangra and Punjabi gang/thug/yob culture. Then think and decide for yourself… Are these really Sikh values? Are we moving forwards? If so towards what? Why are we continually causing confusion between religion and culture?

What do you think is the point of a empty darbar in a field full of people who are spending their time in the park – on rides, with friends, eating and socialising at what is now a cultural vaisakhi mela.

On the other hand the mela is good for a few Sikh businesses, the income of the ice cream men, a few key stalls selling merchandise or food and for those running the fun fair. Is this the real Vaisakhi???

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”

With older generations of the Sikh community currently questioning the purpose and actual parchar of a mela, we are merely suggesting careful planning so as the youth and older community members can work together to try to avoid the disrespect and BEADBI that is prevalent in the “Vaisakhi” mela as it is. Please sign up on the petition via the website below to express your concerns towards organisers. Feel free to make comments in an appropriate and civilised manner. Many Thanks…

Mai said...

Bharata Mata truly does love her children. As long as they're upper caste Hindus.

anand kumar said...

oh !! i really appreciate the concern of our beloved Sikh brothers for so called poor,innocent,terrorised,peaceful CHRISTIAN community...who do not ask anything from anyone except leaving his FAITH & accept CHRIST as the sole saviour...we all know various crafty tricks adopted by these christian missionaries to fool people & induce them to leave there fact our so called secular sikh brothers would glad to know that these christian missionaries gave a tight slap on the cheeks of SIKHS by converting 64 Sikhs in holy town of Taran Taran in Amritsar in february 2006..great job my sleeping secular sikh brothers !! great going & LONG LIVE - SIKH CHRISTIAN FRENDSHIP!!!!

Anonymous said...

what some Christians do, by converting others through trickery to their faith is obviously wrong - however this doesn't mean they should be massacred in this way.

both are wrong, one is just a little more wrong than the other.

thanks for pointing out the conversions anand kumar - but it really is our own communities fault for not doing enough Sikhi parchaar. if someone tastes sikhi at a young age they will never leave, however if all we do is teach them how to dance to bollywood songs and dress up like models then ofcourse they will be converted as they have no roots.

we need to do more sikhi classes, more sikhi camps, more translations and flyering when we have festivals like vaisakhi + bandi chorr. so many sikhs don't even know what happened on these days because the ones in the know failed to share the knowledge.

DesiDirectory said...

Christmas, the festival of joy and cherish, is the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ. In

India the event is celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm by the people no matter

to what religion or place they belong.