This year, the celebration of Durga Puja was appallingly ‘secularized’ in West Bengal. A Durga Puja pandal had the Azan echoing through its walls supposedly to ‘strengthen’ social harmony. In West Bengal’s Beleghata, the theme of the Durga puja decorations was ‘communal harmony’. Apart from the Hindu rituals and paintings, the Pandal featured various religious symbols as decorations.
One such Durga puja pandal was where alternating symbols of the Hindu Om, the Christian Cross and the Islamic Crescent moon, welcomed Goddess Durga’s devotees.
The Hindu majority of West Bengal tried to ‘secularize’ the festival to make it more inclusive to practitioners of Islam and Christianity.
Historically, Hindus have been the most tolerant religious entity since time immemorial. The persecuted people of all religions found abode under Hindu kings. But the practice was not reciprocated. Hindu temples were destroyed; the people were forcefully converted, and women were raped and genocides took place at the hands of the practitioners of Islam and Christianity throughout history.
The same is happening even now. Hindus ‘secularized’ Durga Puja celebrations to the extent of Islamization of the festival, but on Vijaydashmi- the last day of Durga Puja, a Hindu family of an RSS worker was gruesomely murdered in Murshidabad- Muslim majority district of West Bengal.
35 year old Bandhu Prakash Pal who was a school teacher and RSS worker, his 8 months pregnant wife Beauty Pal, 28 and their 6 year old son Angan Pal lived in Jiaganj locality of Murshidabad. The murderer(s) stabbed and bludgeoned the couple with sharp edged weapons while their son was strangled to death with a towel.
The Pal family had moved to Jiaganj in Murshidabad 6 years ago. He was a devout Hindu, an RSS worker, and used to visit Durga Puja Pandal. When the locals did not find the family at the Pandal on Vijayadashmi, they went to Pal’s home to look for him. But, the door was locked from inside.
“The locals then informed the police and the bodies, lying in a pood of blood, were recovered. An investigation has been initiated in the case,” said an officer. The visuals of the gruesome murder are disturbing, and the pictures are being circulated on social media.
Hindus are among most tolerant communities in the world. Since the last two to three millennia, Jews are being persecuted all around the world. The Jews are arguably the most oppressed community in the world. The Jews were forced to live ghettos in Christian Europe, as mainstreaming of the Jewish people was considered a ‘sin’ in Europe. But the Jewish community is living in India since last 2,500 years and had not faced a single case of ‘religious persecution’. In 68 AD, Jews fled to Kerala to escape from an attack on Jerusalem by Romans.
The Parsi community which follows Zoroastrian faith arrived in India in the 9th century to escape from religious persecution by Muslims who had invaded Persia. Those who escaped to India are the last survivors of the faith while all those in Persia (Modern Day Iran) were either converted or killed.
Baha’i’s are another community which migrated from Iran to India to escape from religious persecution.
Tibetan Buddhists seek refuge in India to escape from persecution at the hands of the People’s Liberation Army of Communist China. Their religious head- Dalai Lama made Dharamsala their home and thousands of his followers live in the Indian city.
Christianity reached the Indian state of Kerala in first century AD, almost six centuries before it became dominant religion in Europe. The Early converts of Christianity in India, known as Saint Thomas Christians formulate a significant part of population of Kerala and Goa.
Islam too arrived in India in 6th century AD. The Arab traders, who used to sell Indian goods in Europe, established the world’s second oldest mosque in Kerala.
Therefore, almost all religious including persecuted communities around the world found abode in India. But in return, when the followers of Islam and Christianity became powerful enough to rule, they carried out mass conversions and genocide in India.
Millions of Hindus were killed, children were butchered, and women were raped; because they refused to convert to Islam or Christianity.
The religious demographics of the country changed significantly due to mass conversion and killing of Hindus. At the time of partition, 25 percent of Indian population was Muslim and a small percentage was Christian.
Since independence, the percentage of Muslims and Christians in total population in India has increased. Every year, thousands of impoverished Hindus are converted to Christianity by missionaries. The missionaries offer lakhs of rupees to Hindu families for conversion to Christianity. The Muslim community also converts Hindus with various tactics like Love Jihad, money power as well as muscle power whenever they are in majority.
The Hindu community is religiously tolerant and tries to become inclusive. But they risk the chances of being paid back in the form of murder, rape, and mass conversion. The community needs to unite to fight against state discrimination as well as to protect itself from Abrahamic religions.