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Christians worried as Hindu festival nears
Fear mounts rightwing extremists will attempt forced re-conversionsPromotional material for the Hindu festival
- ucanews.com reporter, Jabalpur
- January 18, 2011
â€śThere is mounting tension in Christian circles here,â€ť says Father George Thomas, a Catholic priest working in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh.
â€śWe are taking every possible step to protect our lives and property,â€ť Father Thomas told ucanews.com today.
The Hindu groups plan to host their religious festival Feb. 10-12.
According to local media, some 2.5 million people from all over India are expected to attend the Ma Narmada Samajik Kumbh (Social Fair of Mother Narmada).
Narmada is a major river that runs through the district.
The main aim of the festival, according to media reports is to â€śreturnâ€ť tribal Christians to Hinduism, which the organizers claim is â€śtheir original religion.â€ť
Media reports also suggested that hardline Hindu activists accused of terror attacks in various parts of India are backing the ghar vapasi (homecoming), or the religious re-conversion.
Local Christians plan to appeal to the collector, the highest-ranking government official in a district, for protection during the fair, Father Thomas said.
One Protestant pastor says threats have already been made. Three people came to my home to demand a donation for the festival. When I refused, they threatened me with â€śdire consequencesâ€ť and took 50 rupees (US$1.10) from me, said Reverend Jai Prakash Koti.
â€śThey also gave me the festival program and ordered me to attend all activities without fail,â€ť the tribal pastor added.
He also claimed some people are encouraging Christians to convert to Hinduism to maintain the peace.
â€śWe have left everything to God and hope no harm will come to us,â€ť he said.
Tribal Christians Withstand Insults, Threats To Continue In Faith
Religious Fair Calls For Conversion Of Christians, Muslims To Hinduism