Saturday, January 02, 2010

Tension during the Christmas season. 2000 Reconverted to Hinduism in Gujarat

By Abdul hafiz lakhani Ahmedabad

Tension during the Christmas season. 2000 Reconverted to Hinduism in Gujarat

In clear message to minorities in Gujarat, as many as 2,000 tribal people(officially registered about 1700) from remote parts of eastern and southern Gujarat tribal belt recently reconverted to Hinduism in a function held at Adajan area in Surat without offical permission from district magistrate.Christians in Gujarat have been persecuted, beaten and imprisoned in the state due to the growing presence of anti-Christian elements aiming to subdue Christianity.

Ramanandacharya Shree Swami Narendracharya Maharaj of Nanij presided over the purification ceremony — a several-hour long function. Wearing dhotis and sporting the sacred thread, the converts’ heads were tonsured to signify their rebirth. During the purification ceremony, the converts who felt cheated after going to Christianity apologized to their forefathers for betraying their faith. Converts were purified by Panchagavya and Bhabhuti. Converts were given fresh ‘Vastram’. The affidavits will be made and later registered to complete the formalities

In its offensive against conversion of tribals to Christianity, Maharashtra-based Shree Sampraday sect claimed to have reconverted 1,747 people back to Hinduism in Surat. A shadow has, however, been cast on the event with Surat district magistrate taking note of the organisers’ failure to seek permission for reconversion as stipulated in the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003. The entire conversion process was similar to the one when 350 years back Shivaji Maharaj brought Netaji Palkar into Hindu dharma by performing the purification process

The camp to reconvert tribals, who had embraced Christianity was held in the city for the first time and nearly 5,000 people from Maharashtra and Gujarat participated in the ceremony.
About 10 priests chanted mantras at a ‘havan’ around which sat those willing to get back to Hinduism. The participants were given ‘gurumantra’ and ‘janaiv’ (sacred thread) to mark their reconversion. The event started around 10 am and continued till late in the evening.

Saints from different parts of the country also took part in the event. The platform was freely used by saints to attack some minority religions. A large number of tribal participants came to the venue from Dangs, Valsad, Navsari and Maharashtra’s Thane and Nandurbar districts.

"We organised the event in Surat to promote Hinduism in urban areas. We have a series of events planned in the near future to hold such reconversion camps in urban areas of Gujarat. In January, events are planned in Vadodara and Silvassa," said Yashwant More, secretary of Surat District Seva Samiti of Shree Sampraday. Reacting to the event Surat district collector A J Shah said: "As per law, prior permission is required for religious conversion.
However, More said: "We don’t know about any such law and hence we have not taken any permission from the district magistrate. Though we got an affidavit notarised informing about the 1,747 people getting reconverted to Hinduism."

The event was organised under the leadership of Jagadguru Narendracharya Maharaj, a Sankracharya of the Shree Sampraday based at Nanijdham in Ratnagiri of Maharashtra. When questioned about the required permission sought from the district magistrate the organisers said that they are not aware about any such law.
"We don't know about any such law and hence we have not taken any permission from the district magistrate. Though we got an affidavit notarised informing about the 1,747 people getting reconverted to Hinduism," said Yashwant More, secretary of Surat District Seva Samiti of Shree Sampraday.

First conversion case was registered in surat

First case registered under Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003 (FRA) was registered in city. The case was registered in February this year following a complaint to the city police commissioner on February 21. In the case, Jagruti Joshi submitted a complaint to the city police commissioner stating that her daught Shradhha's religion was changed by one Junaid Shaikh to marry her on January 24, 2009. Later Junaid surrendered in police with Shradhha and was sent to Shelter Home for Women as she refused to stay either with Junaid or with her parents. Junaid was arrested and the court case is continue in local court here.
Shree Sampraday
Shree Sampraday, headed by Jagadguru Narendracharya Maharaj, 43, a follower of Jagadguru Ramanandji Maharaj, is primarily involved in educational activities. Narendracharyaji became Sankracharya around 15 years ago, his followers inform. The Sampraday is also running reconversion movement across Maharashtra and Gujarat, specifically in tribal regions. Each year the Sampraday organises 10 mass reconversion events in Gujarat. Apart from reconversion, the Sampraday also runs 10 educational institutions in Ratnagiri and involved in child education, adoption and medical facilities.

Since 1998, when the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power, tribal belts in the state have witnessed sporadic tension during the Christmas season.
Christian missionaries have been accused by the Hindu groups of exploiting tribal property and trying to forcefully convert people to Christianity promising money and jobs.
For the reconversion, "Hindu groups brought tribal Christians from Gujarat's Dangs and Tapi districts, as well as from neighboring Maharashtra state. In speeches at the gathering, Hindu leaders reportedly accused local Christians of joining with Maoists to fight Hindu landlords and convert more people to Christianity," .
the "induced and forced" conversion of tribal Christians was aimed at creating "a sense of fear among Christians and prevent missioners from working in the area".
Christian leaders in the state say that Hindu radicals fear tribal and lower-caste people receiving an education because it may lead them not only to stop slaving for upper-caste Hindus but also to question the idea of high-caste superiority.
.In 2003 Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules Gujarat, adopted the Freedom of Religion Act, in reality making any conversions illegal. Violators face up to three years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 50,000 rupees

Most of those who reconverted were reportedly from the tribal community in south Gujarat. Each year the group allegedly organises 10 mass reconversion events in Gujarat.
Says Yashwant More, secretary of Jagadguru's Seva Samiti of Shree Sampraday (Surat), "We organised the event to promote Hinduism in urban areas."

"We have a series of events planned in the near future to hold such reconversion camps in urban areas of Gujarat. In January, events are planned in Vadodara and Silvassa," he added.To this, More responded: "We don't know about any such law and hence we have not taken any permission from the district magistrate."

This is the second time in two months that a mass conversion event is being held by this group. Earlier in October, Swami Maharaj's group is said to have reconverted about 6,000 persons in Thane, Mumbai.Over a dozen pundits specially brought from Ayodhya had performed the ceremony.

Again in April month, over 1700 Christians were claimed to have converted in Borivili, Mumbai, says a spokesman of the group, the goal of reclaiming one lakh persons to Hinduism was completed.

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