Hindus join Christ the King processions for Jesus was different from other kings
by Purushottam Nayak

In many Indian dioceses, post-pandemic processions for the feast showed a different face than that of intolerance propagated by extremists. In Odisha and Rajasthan, the observance provided an opportunity to meet and promote peace and harmony among religious communities.

Kandhamal (AsiaNews) – After almost three years of interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Indian dioceses yesterday celebrated the feast of Christ the King with processions, a tradition deeply felt by local Catholic communities.

The very public display drew also saw many Hindus, with an attitude far different from that of Hindu radical groups who often carry out acts of violence and hostility.

In Raikia, Kandhamal district (Odisha), thousands of people gathered showing great religious fervour for the occasion.

"Gathering a large number of people in the name of Jesus sends a clear message that Jesus was a good person, ready to stand for truth, justice, peace, harmony, unity, and brotherhood, " said Harihar Prasad, one of the many Hindus who joined the celebration.

"There are many ways to reach God, but selfish humans create divisions, and harbour a sense of superiority and dominance. Christianity is a religion that loves peace, justice, unity, and fraternity,” Prasad added.

"The feast of Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, gives us the opportunity to come together irrespective of religion, sect, caste, creed, and colour,” noted Promila Sahu, a Hindu and retired teacher who also attended the event.

“Since ancient times, kings have risen dreaming of possessing a worldwide dominion, a universal kingdom that would last forever. But Jesus is a king who was remarkably different from the kings of the Earth. He came to become the servant of all, to serve everyone, even his enemies.”

"The Lord today invites us to be humble, to be righteous, to be servant, to be lovers of peace, justice and truth,” explained Fr Pradosh Chandra Nayak, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, in his homily.

In Kandhamal, the liturgical service provided an opportunity to administer the sacrament of First Communion to 35 children.

In Ajmer, Rajasthan, the procession took place in an atmosphere of friendship on the part of Hindus and Muslims. In this state, right-wing Hindu nationalist groups have recently targeted Pentecostal prayer gatherings.

“The administration granted all the necessary permits and people of other faiths welcomed the procession on the street with flowers,” said Cosmos Shekhawat, vicar general of the diocese, speaking to AsiaNews.

“Ajmer is very peaceful. The spiritual leaders of other religious groups stood by the roadside to welcome us,” he noted.  "During the procession led by Bishop Pius D'Souza of Ajmer, we prayed for the various intentions of our nation for peace and harmony”.

"We also stopped at St Francis Hospital,” Fr Cosmos added. “Run by the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Ajmer, it serves people of all faiths and castes without discrimination.

“Founded in 1911, it is particularly concerned with the medical care of poor and marginalised women and girls. “The procession ended at the school and Cathedral of St Anselm.”

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)