Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh Mangalore!

Someone asked me if I had a comment about the tension in Mangalore, mayhem seems to be the word of the week! First it was Ike slamming into the gulf coast and Houston, then the unexpected communal riots in Mangalore and then yesterday's bloodbath at the Dow!

Of course when Orissa happened, all in the direct or indirect line of fire were concerned. Blogs, facebook communities were created to spread awareness on the sensitive subject which did not seem to be getting the attention of the media.

Aptly the Christian community showed solidarity with their brethren in Kandhamal, Orissa by protesting in a peaceful manner (the way they know best) by closing all Christian institutions in the country for a day. I have read enough on the subject of the communal infighting to know that the violence this time around started with the killing of a VHF leader, who killed him? No one knows and no one seems to care!

However the VHF and Sangh outfits pointed the finger at the Christians, and not just the finger but the knives and fire too! There seems to be a very casual attitude about the law in this little known town and human rights violation continues unabated even to this day, all secluded from the media! There is no justification to the atrocities committed on the people who have given up so much to serve the downtrodden community in Orissa. It is easy to recollect the Graham Staines incident here.

I agree there are many events that occur in India which do not get the media attention, why should Italy be concerned about Kandhamal, why were they not concerned about the people displaced by the Bihar floods, likewise for me! these are questions I do not wish to address here, I write about what hits close to home.

What happened when the Catholic institutions closed their gates for a day? They were promptly slapped with a notice of violation by the education minister of Karnataka. Talk about just and fair! Where are the notices when the ABVP or the VHP call for a bundh and disrupt classes which has happened time and time again?

Believe me when I say that the best educational institutes for early education in India are run by the Catholics, I’m sure I’ll get a consensus on this even from my Hindu and Muslim friends. Everyone likes to proclaim that they are convent educated. When St.Stephen’s, Delhi announced a quota for the Catholics there was a public outcry, I was surprised by some of the crude language used in the debates on IBN. Can ghettoism be a term used to refer to us?

Mangalore has recently emerged as a communally sensitive city, the emergence of a city is something to celebrate in most cases, but not here! recent probably dates back to the past 7-8 years. The tension was always between the Hindus and Muslims who form a sizable part of the city. Mangalore is home to Hindus, Muslims and Christians and despite being a minority the Christians are still dominant and have considerable influence.

I’ve studied in a school run by the Apostolic Carmel Nuns (girls only) until the 12th; they have a number of institutes in the city as well as in India and around the world too. We had an equal number of Hindus and Christians in class, Muslims were a small minority. Catechism was a class only for the Catholic students, non-Catholics such as the Protestants were welcome but it was not mandatory, they usually joined the Hindus for a class of moral science. First-Friday mass, Way of the cross, chapel visits or any other Church visits were only for the Catholics, the rest usually had a games period during our faith formation activities.

We sang the national anthem every day at the end of the school day, we had patriotic singing competitions, we practiced hard in the sun for the Independence and Republic day drill and parades, took part in flag hoisting in our church and school with equal enthusiasm and the news about India was read every morning at the school assembly. A sense of patriotism was always imbibed in us ever since I can remember. I never saw any favoritism towards the Catholics in my class, infact the School Pupil leader of my class in both the 7th and 10th Standard were Hindus.

Outrageous, is the claim that the Catholics are involved in religious conversion. Education has been the top priority of the Catholic Missionaries since ages and continues to be. Adoration monastery in Milagres and St. Ann’s Friary, Bejai are some of the most peaceful places in the city bustling with life. I have frequented these places often for tranquility.

Desecration of one of the most holy symbolisms of the Catholic Church, the Holy Eucharist or the places of the worship was uncalled for. This is not new in Mangalore though, it has occurred before too in my parish a few years ago, the grotto of Mother Mary was desecrated and the Monstrance stolen.

The New Life group against whom the alleged claims of propaganda have been based are in no way connected to the Catholic Church. Even if the claims are true, no religious group has the right to violate the boundaries of another religious community by destroying life and sacred property. It should have been taken up with the law, a case could have been filed, an investigation conducted, like how sane people in other countries do. I can’t count the times I have personally received pamphlets talking about the greater God, who cares? I remember a group of people outside of Alamo, San Antonio, they gave us reading material, some said thanks, but no thanks, others like me, simply took it and later discarded it. People don’t go around burning churches or desecrating sacred property.

Was the goal of the Sangh Parivar and VHP under the strong influence of the BJP in Karnataka, to make the Christians live in fear? They have succeeded to an extent and have also gotten back a response, retaliation is something you don’t expect from the Christians who have tolerated injustice and peacefully protested for long, but the tolerance threshold has already been breached. There is a reason to get back within the threshold though, for the sake of all in Mangalore.

I am also amazed at some of the comments and blog posts on this subject. I could somehow never believe there are people with so much hatred against Christians in India. Rediff seems to rally all the religious fanatics who post distasteful comments, one of the many reasons I never rely on that site for any news!

While on the subject of conversion, it’s a personal choice. If I decide to embrace Hinduism it’s my choice, even the UN charter has a ruling on this, why should anyone else care? I know our Hindu Brethren don’t all support what has happened in Mangalore and my hope here is for a peaceful co-existence like we’ve done so far.

An old post with the same title - oh Mangalore


silverine said...

Well said!!!

Anonymous said...

The problem is Christians are viewed as a single entity not as catholics or protestants etc. Non-christians do not know/care much about the sub-sect of a religion similar to how Muslim is always a muslim whether Sunni or Shia.

While I do understand your feelings, your view points are of elitist nature. Not connected to grassroots.

It cannot be denied that there are conversion projects going on. If you want example, try this, http://www.joshuaproject.net/

Even peaceful communities suffer due to others mischiefs. Evangelicals are actively preaching hatred. They are imposing their values in the name of religion.

Christianity is a supremacist religion bent on world domination. It is not through peaceful means always. The church has employed all means available to assert its control in the past and even in the present.

I am not very surprised you do not understand the resentment in India over the self-righteous boasting by Christians that they are civilized etc.

When the root of the problem lies with your community, you can hardly blame others.

RZD said...

Dear Anonymous,

Agree that all communities within the Christian community are regarded as one. However what is your point?

Not once in my post have I denied that there may be conversion projects going on in parts of the world, I have attempted to throw light on the fact that those affected in Mangalore are the ones who have tried to uplift the society and India not their own religion. I would condone forceful conversion, but propaganda, pamphlets? It’s all about how you respond to them. Using that as a justification for desecrating Sacred places of worship will take us nowhere. Adoration convent in Milagres is a place of dwelling for the Cloistered Carmelites; they don’t even get out of the convent! Why target such peaceful places?

Anonymous said...

Its not that only the sacred places of Christians are desecrated in India. Thousands of temples had been brought down. Even today, idol stolen, places of pilgrimage vandalized.

The problem is much deeper yet simple to understand.

There is no point in claiming that

I am a catholic
I do not do any harm
that born again is the culprit,

when outside world views both of you as Christians.

For all the good the community has done there is a deep rooted belief in India that Chrisitans are bent on converting people to other religion.

Whether today's Chrisitians espouse that view or not but there is a sense of negative thought about the Christian community that they do all their "service" for a moral benefit (reaping souls for Christ).

India is a country proud of its heritage. In all its history, Indians had fought for their religions mostly through debates. A religion must be intellectually sound to gain acceptance in India (here i refer to the indigenously developed religions in India).

While a Christian may view providing food and shelter to a needy might turn him/her in understanding the compassion of the Chrisitans and ultimately the religion. This is by means seen as a form of bribe. It is insulting his/her intelligence. Its like hitting under the belt.

Hence, this kind of conversions have evoked a certain insecurity and displeasure among Indians.

Anonymous said...

Even Hinduism is not indigenous to India. It is documented that Aryans bought this religion into India, and drove us Dravids down south from North India. The resentment against conversions is political. Hinduism introduced caste system and enslaved people for centuries. Christians educated these people, who were once the traditional vote banks of the politicians. They resent that and not the conversions. The common Indian is least bothered about conversions!


Anonymous said...

To the last anonymous,

>>Even Hinduism is not indigenous to India. It is documented that Aryans bought this religion into India, and drove us Dravids down south from North India.<<

Both the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) and its beaten up version Aryan Migration Theory (AMT), do not have sufficient archaeological evidence. Hence what you claim is just another theory. To claim this as history is simply false. These theories are increasingly being seen as a tool used by the British to divide India.

While many Indians do not actively support the actions of Bajrang Dal and similar outfits, resentment against conversion is real. This is not petty politics.

Anonymous said...

Please sign the petition:


Anonymous said...

Hinduism is foreign. North Indians are foreigners! And Ramayana is the tale of North Indian versus South Indians. The Aryan Invasion Theory is proved quite corroboratively besides the very fact that these people are so different from us and so despicable is proof enough!!

Anonymous said...

The study of gene pool of India in 2007 proved that they remain unchanged for at least 50000 years.

So sad, that your AIT claims that Aryans invaded around 2500 BC.

AIT does not stand in front of scientific evidence.

Aryan-Dravidan divide was invented by the British as part of their divide & rule.

BTW, people do not look the same if they follow the same religion. It depends on many criteria like place, climate etc. Got it?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hmmm.. Since a lot of "Anonymous" folks are having a party at someone else's expense, I think I'll gatecrash too!

I remember having skimmed the new topics of your blog before, but I never read these in details.. moreover, I seem to be relying on the wrong news media (Rediff!) and hence was blissfully unaware of such large scale attacks on Christians!

I condemn attacks on anyone for any cause. Be it religious, financial, or plain bullying. I can't speak a lot on behalf of other states, but it has been hard to understand the reasons behind several riots in Karnataka too! For instance why should 3 innocent people die because Dr. Rajkumar died of natural causes? How much more kaveri water have we got by beating our Tamilian friends? As I understand it, a lot of the violence in those riots are a result of economic disparity, and some antisocial elements waiting for a chance to payback. For instance, the shiny new cars are the first to be shattered and burnt. The riot officers correctly point to the large construction granite rocks used to cause damage, even when there is no construction going around the site being damaged!

But unfortunately, there is also a deep rooted mistrust and resentment amongst the educated people! Part of it is propaganda, but part of it is human nature, i.e. herd instincts! If you look around the world, countries are usually formed on the basis of religion, language, ethnicity etc. It has always surprised me that despite all odds and differences, we have always managed to stick together as Indians! So while all these religious scuffles should be dealt with sternly, there is no cure until everyone open their hearts and minds, and accept others for who they are. Fellow human beings. Nothing more, nothing less.

As far as conversions go, if the person undergoing the religious conversion does not have a problem, why should anyone else have one? If you think that a person accepting gifts to convert himself is an insult to his intelligence, then tell HIM that news. Why whack the priest doing the conversion, or hate the other church-goers? In a democratic society like ours, the Church is as free to do its preaching as the VHP. What are you afraid of? If you feel that your gullible countrymen may fall for the carrot and the stick, then show them the "right" way PEACEFULLY! In the end, they have to decide for their own welfare. So they are free to pick the religion of their choice.

In short, let me ask all the resenting "anonymous" this:
If a poor person converts in lieu of monetary and social benefits, why are you sad? Would you be happier if that person did not convert and died in his poverty? Are you doing anything to help him out of his misery? If not, why resent someone else who is?

In closing, I'd like to point to the link that actually dragged me to this blog:


Hriday said...

Whoa man! @Anonymous. you are certainly well informed. i wonder why you prefer to stay anonymous. I agree with your informed opinions

RZD said...

@Hriday, which Anonymous are you calling well informed? I think there are at least 4 different Anons!