20 March 2018
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  • » 03/07/2018, 14.38


    A statue of Our Lady beheaded in Odisha

    Purushottam Nayak

    The sculpture of the Virgin is in the grotto of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Aligonda. The “religious feelings of the Christian minority in India are hurt." In Partama, more than 15,000 devotees of Mary celebrate the feast dedicated to her. Muslims and Hindus are also present.

    Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - A statue of Our Lady has been vandalised in Aligonda, Gajapati District, in the Indian state of Odisha (Orissa).

    On Sunday, the sculpture of the Virgin was found headless in the grotto dedicated to her in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, which falls under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Berhampur.

    "It is very sad to think that the religious feelings of the Christian minority in India are hurt," said Fr Sanjib Biro, the parish’s former pastor, speaking to AsiaNews.

    The priest, who is currently the pastor at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Dantoling, Odisha’s main place of pilgrimage, added: "The nature of Christians is to love peace and build unity and brotherhood with one another. It is really depressing that innocent Christians are harassed and threatened."

    According to Fr Biro, the attack against the statue of Mary "caused deep sadness in the community. Our Lady is a model and example for every Christian in the region.”

    “Hundreds of believers come to Dantoling each year on 11 February to attend the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and on 11 December in Aligonda for the feast of the Immaculate Conception."

    “The incident,” the clergyman noted, "has knocked out the Christians, as if they had lost a family member. People are crying and praying for the statue of Mary because even if she is headless, she remains very dear to them."

    The parish of Aligonda was founded in 1985 by French missionaries. About 10,000 Catholics live in the area.

    Meanwhile, on Monday, about 130 km from the scene of the attack, more than 15,000 people took part in the feast of the Our Lady of Partama, Daringbadi Parish, in the archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar.

    The large number of believers of every religion shows that the devotion to Mary is strong even among non-Christians. The pilgrimage site is famous, among other things, for the apparitions of Our Lady to a Hindu widow.

    According to the story, Ms Kamoladevi, a widow, went up Partama Mountain to collect some wood. It was 5 March 1994.

    At one point, a man dressed in white and with a long beard approached her and then disappeared. Soon after, a "beautiful woman" showed up, calling her by name. She asked the widow to build a church right on the spot.

    Back in the village, her Hindu neighbours paid no heed to what she told them. A few days later a 12-year-old boy took her back to the mountain and then disappeared.

    At that point, the beautiful woman appeared for a second time, revealing who she was. "I am the Mother of Jesus,” she said. “Pray constantly that people’s life change from evil to good, from hatred to love."

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    See also

    18/02/2015 INDIA
    Tribal Mundari begin Lent with a pilgrimage to India's 'Black Lady'
    People from Blessed Mother Teresa Parish in Siadih are planning to travel to the Dhori Matha Shrine to ask for Mary's intercession during this liturgical period. The holy place holds a black wooden statue depicting the Virgin, found in 1956 by a Hindu woman in a coalmine.

    15/12/2011 INDONESIA
    Central Java: statue of the Virgin decapitated
    The act of vandalism occurred last night in Sendag Prawito (Semarang Archdiocese), in a small chapel devoted to Our Lady. A cross was also stolen and some religious objects were destroyed. The archbishop demands Christians be protected during the Christmas period.

    25/08/2008 INDIA
    Orissa: violence and destruction against Christians accused of killing radical Hindu leader
    Churches, chapels, a social centre and a pastoral centre as well as vans belonging to nuns have been destroyed. A new wave of violence has followed the assassination of Swami Laxanananda, the man behind the war against Christians that left three people dead and saw 13 churches burnt last December in Orissa.

    23/07/2008 SRI LANKA
    Bombings intensify, "Our Lady of Madhu" moved
    Fighting and bombings in the area have required the statue of the Virgin Mary to be moved to the bishop's residence. The intensification of the conflict is forcing tens of thousands of refugees to live under the trees and in the jungle.

    11/11/2008 INDIA
    Orissa bishops call on government to rebuild churches by Christmas
    The request is made in a letter addressed to the state’s chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, to help things get back to normal. However, violence and forced re-conversion to Hinduism are still taking place in the state, generating fear and terror. The bishops call on the central government to continue the deployment of special forces in the state until after the upcoming election which is scheduled for 9 April next year.

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