1,000 Dalit Christians to reconvert to Hinduism in TN

via Timesofindia.com published on April 12, 2008



CHENNAI:
Thousand members who belong to Dalit Christian community will officially get
reconverted into Hinduism on Monday in Tirunelveli town in a colourful function
being organized by Hindu Monks Tamil Nadu Council.


This event gains significance
in the backdrop March 9 police shootout in which two people were killed when
clashes broke out between the members of upper caste Catholics and Dalit
Catholics.


Speaking to TOI,
Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) president Arjun Sampath said: “185 families of Dalit
Christians will formally return to Hinduism. All of them hail from the interior
villages of Tirunelveli district. This event is being organized on the occasion
of Ambedkar’s birthday.”


HMK had earlier tried to hold
the event at Nellayappar temple in Tirunelveli. However, the HR&CE
department which governs the temple refused permission saying that the temple
premises could not be used for such purposes.


“So, we’re now holding
the function at Nellai Sangeetha Sabha – which is a private hall”, Arjun said.
It’s learnt the function will start with a ganapathi homam and would be
followed by prayaschitha yagam (atonement ritual) and sudhi chadangu
(purification rite)


“We’ll purify all those
who return to Hinduism by sprinkling ‘ganga theertha’ and
‘sethu theertha.’ We’ve specially brought waters from
Rameshwaram sea and the Ganges for this purpose”, Arjun said and added all of
them would also be bestowed with holy Hindu
names.


Further, those who want
to follow Saiva cult would be given bhasmam (sacred ash) and a string of
rudraksha while the vaishnavite converts would be given namam (tilak) and a
string of tulsi. The Dalit Christians who return to Hindu fold would also be
given a mantra deeksha (formal initiation) both in Sanskrit and
Tamil.


HMK has also engaged the
services of several notaries who would be present during the re-conversion
function. “The members who return to Hindu fold will take an oath before them
and sign affidavits. Later, we’ll get the conversion certificates from
Arya Samaj to get their names changed in the gazette”, Arjun said.


Depending on the success of
this re-conversion, HMK also plans to re-convert 20,000 Christians in Villupuram
district. “We’ll take it up in August”, Arjun
said.







India has a total 24
million Christian population. Of this Dalit Christians constitute 15 million
while tribal Christians account for 3 million.


In Tamil Nadu, Dalit
Christians complain of discrimination at the hands of upper caste Christians.
They have separate burial grounds and seating arrangements.

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