04/18/2017, 17.19
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More than 5,000 Christians and Hindus celebrate Easter in Kandhamal, the pogrom district

by Santosh Digal

The event was held in the Church of Our Lady of Charity in Raikia. In 2008 the district was the scene of the worst anti-Christian persecution in Indian history. Youth enacted passages from the Bible and Easter themes. "I have absorbed the message of love and peace,” a Hindu said.

Raikia (AsiaNews) – More than 5,000 people, Christians and Hindus included, celebrated Easter in Raikia, Kandhamal district (Orissa), where Hindu radicals carried out India’s worst anti-Christian massacre.

"For the past couple of years, we have organised celebrations involving Christians and Hindus to encourage brotherhood, solidarity and understanding,” said Fr Prodosh Chandra Nayak, pastor of Our Lady of Charity Church, speaking to AsiaNews.

The ceremony, which took place in an atmosphere of joy and love according to participants, began at 6.30 pm (local time) and ended around 10 pm in the presence of people from various religious denominations.

Local authorities expressed their solidarity by sending Easter greetings, and parish youth staged a three-hour play based on biblical passages and Easter topics.

"Jesus Christ is risen,” said Fr Jeevan Nayak, assistant parish priest. “Let the message of love and peace of Easter pervade everyone’s heart and mind so that we can build a harmonious society."

Jacob Pradhan, a local government official, said that "for everyone, especially those involved in outreach, the resurrection of Christ means mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence.”

In view of this, “I urge all our brothers and sisters, whatever their faith, to heed the message that Christ gives to our hearts and our families. This way, we shall work for peace and harmony in our district."

The ceremony was well received by those present. For Shankar Nayak, a pious Hindu, "Easter events like this help local people create feelings of closeness that allow them to live peacefully. I have absorbed the message of love and peace, and found a way to live with joy in all circumstances."

Celebrations took on even greater significance considering that in 2004 the parish was damaged and desecrated by Hindu nationalists.

Later, in 2008, it was the centre of violence unleashed by the radicals across the district, which caused the death of 100 Christians and forced some 56, 000 from their homes.

Following the anti-Christian pogrom, the local Church engaged in a reconciliation and peace process, and interfaith dialogue, making possible events like this Easter gathering.

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