Odisha: 45,000 Hindus pay tribute to Baby Jesus on Christmas day

December 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Odisha, December 27, 2016: On Christmas day, some 45,000 Hindus paid tribute to the Child Jesus in Bhubaneshwar, capital of the State of Odisha (Orissa).

The event is historic, the more so since the Indian State was the scene in 2008 of the most vicious persecution of Christians ever perpetuated in India.

According to Fr Prasanna Pradhan, pastor at St Vincent Cathedral in the state capital, the people of Odisha “have a deep sense of respect and honour for Jesus, who dispels the darkness of discord and division and strengthens ties between people.”

The clergyman believes that as a result of the sectarian violence unleashed by Hindus in Odisha in the summer of 2008, which killed about 100 people and led to the destruction of 300 churches and places of worship, “Christianity is much better known among people of different faiths”.

Leena Dutta, a young woman from Patia, was among the thousands of devout Hindus who came to Bhubaneshwar’s pro-cathedral. “I studied in a school run by nuns,” she said. There “I met Jesus’ life. For this reason, I come to visit him every year during the holiday season.”

In Kandhamal district, the most affected by sectarian violence, Christmas celebrations were held under tight security. This was possible, Christians say, thanks to constant surveillance by police, which is deployed every year to prevent possible attacks.

Even in 2007, when pogroms started, police were present, averting an attack by an angry mob of 2,500 Hindus, armed with sticks and knives, who wanted to avenge the death of a Hindu struck by the collapse of a cross.

Mgr John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, thanked the state government for providing “protection to Christians, especially those persecuted in Kandhamal”.

“Christmas,” he added, “speaks about Christ. It speaks of how he deprived himself to save sinners. Christmas is about how the Son of God became man and how he lived on earth. Christmas speaks of what Jesus accomplished on the cross and how he conquered death. Christmas tells us how a sinner can meet with God.”

In the capital, 25 December was also a day dedicated to the care of the poor and needy. The Missionaries of Charity, an institute founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, handed out a hot meal to hundreds of destitute.

“At the time of Jesus’s birth, no door was open and no one accepted him,” said Regional Superior Sister Olivet. “When we give food to the poor we remember the phrase ‘serve man is to serve God’.”

Tata Steel manager Abhisek Das, who visits the Sisters’ house every three months, offered the meal.

“When I see that my humble gesture brings a smile to the faces of orphans and poor, I feel immensely happy,” he said. “Every religion teaches us to do good. Charitable work makes us grow in love and unity; this way, we become agents of peace and harmony.”

– asianews

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