“Tonight we have carol service, Rajan; but I’m worried
Rajan was shocked at my words. “ Why? Anything wrong, Joe?” Rajan’s eyes and words expressed his anxiety.
“Even yesterday Alex confirmed that we have carol singing today.” Alex is our team leader.
“Don’t you remember what Fr. Anto told last Sunday?”
“Of what?” I thought he should have forgotten about the announcement in the Sunday mass.
“About the persecution going on in this country against the Christians” I reminded him.
“But that is only in the North. What can happen in our village?” I know he may not be aware of the persecution going on in our country.
Everyday Christian people are being harassed, their houses plundered, churches attacked, pastors and priests murdered mercilessly and things getting worse day by day. Not only in Orissa, but also in all the other states of India persecution of some kind is going on. All the Christians, the persecutors say, are foreigners and should go out of the country. The Christians are born and brought up in India, enjoying and participating in the culture and heritage of this country. The government is silent just because of the fear of losing majority of votes in the coming Election! But we are sure justice can survive.
“Have you forgotten about the incident that occurred on last year Christmas night in the small town in Orissa?”
“Yes I remember, it was a black Christmas for all Indian Christians. Catholics, Baptists and Pentecostals in that town decided to celebrate Christmas jointly and conducted a Christmas program with the proper permission from the government. But unfortunately some an anti social mob opened fire at the Christians gathered there and attacked with swords and sticks. Two were shot dead and many injured.”
“But the pity is the local government is supporting the culprits and the center is also silent. Hence it is increasing day by day” I could not express my anxiety.
Something was frightening my inner heart. All over India the situation is going from bad to worse. Even two weeks back there was an attack in our neighboring parish where an old man who was conducting prayer meeting was attacked and his leg was broken.
“Joe, let’s hope such things will not happen in our village,” Rajan encouraged me to be hopeful, “as we maintain religious harmony in our village."
But our parish priest warned us because of the spreading enmity. Narrow minded parties enkindle anti religious feelings for their selfish motives and spoil the ignorant people.
Fr.Anto is very kind and encouraging. He has organized a team for carol singing for Christmas. We have a carol team in St. Joseph’s Church.
We have only four weeks. Every weekend we have carol singing.
Only four days! We have to cover all the houses in the village, without any exception. Hindus, Muslims and Christians. They encourage our team. They don’t have any grudge against any religion.
In our village, all of us are one family. We attend their festivals. We share Pongal(cooked rice with sugar) with them. We attend car procession with cultural programs, a kind of parochial feast for the local Hindus. Ganesh, a Hindu, sometimes joins our carol singing team. He has a good voice.
We have only three Muslim houses who occupied recently. Rehman, a devoted Muslim, Ganesh and I are close friends. They attend our Christmas, Palm Sunday, Easter, etc. We embrace them on their Ramzan day.
But how long this harmony can withstand these selfish parties?
People in our village like our team and encourage our singing. A very small team! Alex plays harmonium which Fr. Anto has given at our disposal. Ganesh, Rehman and myself are the main singers. Others joins us according to their availability. Xavier plays tabla(a kind of drum). Andrew pays symbols.
Alex has composed Christmas songs in cinema song tunes in Tamil language. We sing jingle bells, O Come let us adore him and We Wish You a Merry Christmas also in English.
All the people in the village wait for our arrival without sleep. They are very happy to share our singing and hear our messages on Christmas. They want to be peaceful. They don’t find any difference in Gods.
Love of God and love of all is our message. We sing for that love.
We came out. Now I am ready for both carol and parole!
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