VHP opposes to Santa Claus giving chocolates to kids
RAIPUR: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Bastar region of
Chhattisgarh has objected to several activities of the church and raised
questions about use of school buses for religious functions, as well as Santa
Claus distributing chocolates to schoolkids during Christmas. The VHP and its
backed outfits have also said they want idols of Goddess Saraswati, the Hindu
deity of learning, installed in missionary schools.
While the Catholic school authorities agreed to have
the Goddess’s idols installed, they rejected VHP’s other demands saying these
were an infringement on their freedom to manage their religious affairs
guaranteed by the Constitution.
The row between Bastar missionaries and VHP was
triggered by a speech by Jagdalpur diocese bishop Mar Joseph Kollamparambil at
a school annual function recalling how Fr Kuriakose Elias Chavara, a visionary
and social reformer, “was canonized and conferred sainthood by Pope Francis at
Vatican on Sunday.” He said Fr Chavara contributed to free education for all in
Kerala in the 19th century. Earlier, on November 17, bishop Joseph had said the
Kerala reformer had introduced the concept for “a school along with church”,
making education accessible to all and spread education in Bastar.”
VHP then alleged that the bishop’s address promoted “communalism
and narrow-mindedness". It also wrote to CM Raman Singh alleging “Missionaries
put non-democratic pressure on Hindu society and administration on the pretext
of education. The issues weren’t portrayed right. So we decided to have a dialogue
with VHP representatives to clear the air,” said Jagdalpur diocese spokesman
and vicar-general Abraham Kannampala.
“On November 21-22, seven church representatives and
12 VHP men met and discussed various issues,” Kannampala said, adding, “We
accepted some suggestions but did not agree on some other proposals.” He added,
“It’s not as if we're under pressure from anyone and we made some compromise.
Ours was a collaborative, problem solving approach. We didn’t have any
objection to non-Christian students addressing school principal as ‘pracharya’,
or ‘uppracharya’, or ‘sir’, instead of ‘father’, as demanded by VHP.
Similarly, we agreed to put up photographs of ‘Ma
Saraswati’ and ‘great personalities’ who worked for national interest in our educational
institutions,” Kannampala said.
VHP Bastar chief Suresh Yadav and church vicar general
and spokesman Fr Abraham Kannampala later issued a joint statement about their
consensus at the meeting.