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Black Christmas

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on a campaign trail in the NE, he had with him his minister for tourism, KJ Alphons who prided himself on being a practising Christian. It was obviously an election ploy in poll-bound Meghalaya. But the BJP seems to be largely without faith in national integration that has already hit it hard in its bailiwick, Gujarat. Another state where the party has a footprint for a long time, Rajasthan appears to have loudly offended the religious sentiments of practising Christians. Intolerant Hindutva groups are threatening to stop Christian festivities. A right wing Hindu mob reportedly muscled into a community centre in Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh district to disrupt a Christian event. They apparently believed that the event was a religious conversion programme. There is no constitutional bar to conversion by Christian missionaries. Some years ago, Rajasthan prevented Mother Teresa from entering the state for fear of it being on a proselytization ride. And now a group belonging to the Hindu Jagran Manch has warned schools in UP’s Aligarh against celebrating Christmas. In Madhya Pradesh, Bajrang Dal activists reportedly thrashed a Christian priest and four seminarians. Ghar wapsi cannot be a monopoly of the votaries of Hindutva which can be accompanied by vandalism. What is a silver lining is that UP Chief Minister Aditya Nath has ordered that Christmas celebrations in the state should go on unhindered.

Christmas is not just fun and games, Turkey and Christmas pudding. It is a holy night when one of the greatest men in history who is worshipped as a God by Christians  was born in a manger. It has long been a global religion with even Russia celebrating it. In India, the participation of all communities in Yuletide festivities has always been a proof of India’s secularism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should tell the extremists in his party that secularism is not just a value to be professed but should be an article of faith.

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