04/12/2021, 15.46
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Kandhamal: the families of pogrom victims celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy

by Nirmala Carvalho

In Raikia parish, Father Purushottam Nayak led the liturgy in the presence of Antita Pradhan, widow of one of the martyrs of persecution in 2008 in Odisha.  The cause of beatification of the victims is ongoing.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – The Feast of Divine Mercy was celebrated on Sunday, 11 April, in the Diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, in the Indian state of Odisha (Orissa), which was severely affected by a wave of anti-Christian violence in 2008.

In Our Lady of Charity parish of in Raikia, Kandhamal district, Father Purushottam Nayak led a celebration attended by Anita Pradhan, widow of Sibina Pradhan, who was horribly killed and mutilated by Hindu extremists during the attacks of 25 August 2008.

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only a limited number of people, including many young people, were able to participate in the celebration,” Fr Nayak told AsiaNews.

The priest told the faithful the story of Sibina Pradhan, who was originally from Sisopanga, a village in Raikia parish. He was brutally killed, his body mutilated after death with an axe and a sword, because he had converted to Catholicism from Hinduism.

“I welcomed Christianity because it is a true religion and I will not renounce it even if I were to be killed,” he boldly told his persecutors.

Sibina was murdered so inhumanely that his wife Anita was unable to recognise his lifeless body. He now lies buried in Raikia cemetery.

“My faith is strong,” the tearful widow told Fr Nayak after the celebration. “I experienced the Divine Mercy of Jesus. We miss him a lot, but we know that Sibina is with Jesus.

“Our three sons – Anirudha, Chandan, and Jitima – know that their father loved Jesus more than his own life and was killed because he was part of the Body of Christ. This is Divine Mercy, God's love for us.”

For Fr Nayak, “Anita's faith is strong, even if her life is full of difficulties. The government has not yet paid her the promised compensation. And her economic woes have grown due to COVID-19.”

Archbishop of John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar tasked him with preparing the file for the diocesan phase of the process of beatification of the martyrs of Odisha (Orissa). After this, the documents will be delivered to the Vatican for further examination and verification.

Fr Nayak has drawn up a list of 105 martyrs, including seven Catholics. The list includes Christians of all denominations but also Hindus, Muslims and others killed only for trying to help and defend Christian brothers and sisters.

He notes that the archdiocese wants to honour non-Catholics and non-Christians who sacrificed their lives. A group of seven priests are helping him gather evidence of their martyrdom.

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