Andhra Hindus were shocked to see a gospel program broadcasted in the midst of live telecast of Dasara celebrations in Kanaka Durga temple. Allegedly the operator continued to play the program even after being asked to stop it. However temple authorities have claimed it to be an accident.
As a part of the Dasara celebrations, LED screens were placed outside the famous Kanaka Durga temple in AP to help devotees view the celebrations. Pujas and other rituals were live telecasted through the LED screens. Around 8.30 PM on October 7, the first day of Navratri, suddenly Christian preaching program started playing on the screens in the midst of live streaming. The indignant devotees allegedly hurled stones and damaged one of the LED screens placed near the Model Guest House on the banks of Krishna river.
The incident caused much outrage and Hindu organisations criticised Jagan Mohan Reddy’s government for propagating Christianity in a Hindu temple. However temple authorities have claimed that it was an accident. TNIE reported that ‘authorities said the display on the LED screen installed downhill near the Model Guest House was purely accidental, and added that allegations of evangelism on temple premises were baseless’.
TNIE further reported that the temple authorities alleged that politicians and media are spreading false information about the issue and condemned them. But Sri Durga Malleswara Swamy Varla Devasthanam (SDMSD) has ordered an investigation into the incident while the police have registered a case and detained two persons for interrogation.
The video played was of an evangelist of Philadelphia church. Temple authorities told media that the operator of the local channel, C Channel, to which live streaming was contracted, forgot to switch off telecasting after the live ended. Allegedly he played the daily programs of the channel which is how the gospel program was broadcasted in the LED screen. However The Times of India reported that the internal inquiry of temple administration revealed that the operator continued to play the Christian proselytisation program despite being asked to stop it.
Vijayawada Commissioner of Police Bathini Sreenivasulu also said that it could have been accidental and assured of action if proved otherwise. Brahmin Corporation’s ex-Chairman Vemuri Anand Surya has written to CM Jagan about the incident and sought him to take action against Information and Public Relationship commissioner Vijay Kumar Reddy for “encouraging proselytisation in Hindu religious places”.
It drew severe criticism from many quarters of the Hindu community and BJP Lanka Dinakar wondered whether Jagan’s government had launched a new scheme, ‘Jaganana Religious Conversions’. While temple authorities claim that the gospel program was accidentally telecasted after the live streaming ended, there are varying media reports claiming that the live streaming was suddenly stopped and the gospel preaching program was telecasted for nearly 15 minutes.
Such discreet attempts to propagate Christianity in Hindu holy places has been on the rise since Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP came to power. In January a group of pastors prayed inside temple premises akd threatened the pujari who questioned their actions and intention. In December 2020, decorative lights looking like the cross were put up in Tirupati and removed after protests. Many TTD employees and officials were caught visiting churches in violation of TTD rules. There are also allegations that many HRCE department employees are crypto-Christians.