Recently, there have been many reported incidents of missionary conversion through illegal, coercive means in Tamil Nadu. But the particular incident discussed here is a unique case of awaken Hindus who question about the injustice shown to them in the name of secularism. Nilgiri is a district that consists 78.60% of Hindus who mainly belong to Badaga , SC and ST castes. The main community Badagas were aware of issues like scholarship for economically backward Hindu students and protection of cultural identity when educated people on SM were deaf to the hoarse crying of handles like Reality Check India about the importance of such issues.
They have been fighting against forced and deceitful conversion for a long time. Seven years ago when someone tried to stir up communal tension by trying to convert Hindus forcefully in a 100% Hindu village, the attempt was thwarted. However an illegal prayer hall cropped up and they had to petition against it to the district collector. Missionaries were accused of appropriating Badaga culture to convert more Hindus through deceit. Evangelists earning by the way of conversion was also mentioned by the convener of the organisation, which was formed to protect Badagas. Their clear, articulate thinking would be an eye opener for fence sitters who think Hindus are playing victim in this conversion game.
“Our protest isn’t based on hatred for a specific religion or community. The basis of Badaga community is Hinduism. The discipline of our community amazed even the UNESCO. While we were listed as Scheduled Tribe in 1831 we were moved to the Backward Castes list 100 years later. We have been fighting to regain the rights we lost due to this change. This weakness is being exploited by conversion agents who brainwash widows, patients and poor people by promising them a way out of their misery if they convert. Conversion business yields them big money from abroad through which they expand their boundaries. Though they targeted the weak and vulnerable in the beginning, now-a-days they go door to door for converting people. The population of our community is only in lakhs. If this continues there is a possibility of our extinction. As the government is considering our demand to list us as ST the reduction in population due to conversion might spoil the eligibility.” laments the convener of the organisation.
It gets worse when it comes to the cultural destruction brought by conversion. From birth to death Badagas have practices and rituals they diligently follow like every Hindu community. But now-a-days, these practices face restriction from the neo-converts. Converted women refuse to do the rituals for their dead husbands which left the body of one such man lying untended for a whole night. However being aware of dangers hasn’t helped this Hindu community as the government or its servants aren’t much helpful in preserving their identity. From ‘our culture is based in Hinduism’ they have come a long way in seeking linguistic or religious minority status to get back their rights by saying ‘We were classified as Hindus in the 2011 census which contradicts the ‘Badagas are a religious minority’ stand and that must be rectified’.
Currently one of the Hindu stronghold villages Alakkarai which consists of 80 Hindu families and 6 Christian households is facing the atrocities of conversion. Hindus were dragged to the police station by the Christians reasons for which is not clear. Badagas solve issues within their community on their own in peaceful manner. They also help other communities in finding resolutions for their problems. However conversion has resulted in them being dragged to the police and court which caused resentment among members of same family. Now Hindus of this village accuse the 6 Christian families of being a constant headache by dragging them into unnecessary fights. Hindu women and children filed a complaint in the local police station with the help of Hindu Munnani alleging harassment by the converted Christians
- Harassing the Hindus to convert
- Disturbing the studies of 12th standard kids who face public examination through loud prayers
- Harassing the kids to join their prayer
- Purposefully intruding their sleep by conducting night prayer sessions
நீலகிரி மாவட்டம் குன்னூர் அளக்கறை கிராமத்தில் கட்டாய #கிறிஸ்தவ #மதமாற்ற கும்பலை கண்டித்து இந்துமுன்னணி உதவியுடன் களமிறங்கிய பெண்கள்…
மதம்மாறிய பிறகு சலுகைகள் எதற்கு?
நியாயமான கேள்விகள்.. pic.twitter.com/1gScNx5OoD
— Hindu Munnani (@hindumunnaniorg) November 25, 2017
They also demand that the privileges converts’ enjoy by not registering their conversion be cancelled. The woman further says, “Why leave Hinduism when you have offers and schemes to uplift your life? If you are converted based on your faith why would you want to enjoy benefits offered for Hindus? Some are both Hindus and Christians at the same time. They are beneficiaries of government schemes but as a Hindu or Christian is unclear. Are Hindus the cheated ones? We go to Christian funerals and they come to funerals of Tamils. They have been the ones protesting. We were all for solving the issue on our own but they dragged it to the police station. Should Hindus remain as Hindus or not? 6 families are harassing 80 families. Police should find a solution before communal clashes erupt”.
It is not the first time that such a tensed situation prevails due to missionary atrocities. There was a violent clash in 2012 after attempts were made to build a church in one of the Hindu majority villages. It all boils down to the core issues that have been pointed out time and again like non sectarian scholarship and protection against denigration and inculturation of our culture. Will this waking up start a renaissance? Is Tamil Nadu going to be the starting point of it? Only time will tell.
(Feature Image source: goheritagerun)
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