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India: Gandhi’s death anniversary: Indian Christians to fast and pray for unity

Wednesday 2 February 2022, by siawi3

Source: https://sabrangindia.in/article/gandhis-death-anniversary-indian-christians-fast-and-pray-unity

Gandhi’s death anniversary: Indian Christians to fast and pray for unity

The Martyr’s Day observance by the Christians of India will be without speeches, slogans on political signage

Sabrangindia

29 Jan 2022

Photo: Mahatma gandhi

“Mahatma Gandhi’s message of non violence alone will preserve and strengthen India’s unity in diversity,” say members of Christian community in India, who will observe Martyrs Day, January 30, the anniversary of the assassination of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, with a nation-wide programme of fasting and prayers.

The community has united across Denominations, Rites, and languages to come together across the country to fast pray for “the unity and progress of the motherland.”

A call for this peaceful program has been given by the 102-year-old All India Catholic Union (AICU) and has been endorsed by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, the National Council of Churches in India, and the Evangelical Fellowship of India. These three organisations represent the Catholic, Protestant, and the Evangelical Independent churches which minister to the Christian community, which comprises 2.3% of the population of India.

The Christian community in India “is as old as the religion, and historically traces its roots to the arrival in Kerala and Tamil Nadu of Apostle Thomas, a disciple of Jesus Christ, in the first century of the Christian era. The community’s role in education, health and the empowerment of women, Dalits and Adivasis, is universally acknowledged,” stated the AICU.

On January 30, 2022, Martyr’s Day observance by Indian Christians “will be without speeches, slogans on political signage. It will be silent. The banners will focus on two messages. The first reminds that the Christian community is, and has always been, peaceful and peace-loving. The second says in clear terms that the Church does not believe in religious conversions by fraud or force,” stated AICU.

In the statement released by Lancy D Cunha, National President, AICU, the community recalled that “Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who Indians lovingly call Bapu and everyone in the world knows as Mahatma Gandhi, is one of the greatest moral forces the modern world has seen. His peaceful resistance led to the Independence of India. In the second half of the Twentieth century, it became the example with which people in Africa, Asia and Latin America smashed the yoke of European colonialism. He single-handedly intervened when during Partition, two communities clashed in 1947. Unarmed, and using the powerful instrument of fasting and prayer, he challenged and quietened people who wanted to kill each other. "My life is my Message,” he had said. His message of non-violence has become immortal.”

Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948, “was an attempt to kill this message — the gift of communal harmony and coexistence of many religious groups who wanted to live together as they had lived in India since the time of St Thomas. The assassins failed to kill Gandhi’s ideas and his legacy” stated the AICU, adding “On Martyrs Day, we solely affirm our solidarity with people world-wide who love freedom, democracy, equality, and peaceful co-existence. Without these, peace and development are difficult not just in India but everywhere in the world. This is the message and resolve we bring to our countrymen in our prayers wherever our community lives in India.”

This call comes at a time when the Christian and Muslim communities across India continue to face attacks, threats and vandalism of their places of worship. Hundreds of such attacks have been reported till now and there has been no official condemnation by the Government of India.

The United Christian Forum (UCF), in its year-end statement, shared that its toll-free helpline number 1800-208-4545 has responded to more than one complaint of anti-Christian harassment or violence a day. The year 2021 ended with over 500 such complaints being reported on the helpline. The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) recorded over 305 cases of attacks on Christians till the end of November 2021.

On Christmas weekend, communal mobs were out targeting Christians, and others, celebrating the festival of joy, including at school functions, across the country. It is no shocker therefore that 2021 has turned out to be one of the most dangerous years for Christian minorities in India.

SabrangIndia’s analysis 2021 put on record a surge in hate crimes against religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians. However, India does not possess an independent, comprehensive yet authoritative, or statutory database of the quantum and kind of hate crimes that have taken place across the country.

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