Christians in Mangalore, who witnessed a wave of attacks against them two years ago, have started a 21-day fast and prayer vigil for safety and peace in this southern Indian town. "We offer the 21 days of prayers and fasting for the safety" of Christians in Karnataka, said Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore who opened the marathon prayer program March 10. He said after the pro-Hindu attacks on churches across Karnataka state in 2008, Christian were "in constant fear" and felt unsafe. At least 27 Christian sites were damaged across the state in the first few days of violence that began three months after the pro-Hindu Bhratiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian people's party) came to power in 2008. Father Nelson Pinto, the convener of the prayer program across the diocese, said they have settled on 21 days because of a Biblical reason. According to Bible, Prophet Daniel had for full "three weeks of mourning" sacrificed pleasant food, meat and wine," said the Carmelite priest. He said with that background, Catholics across the diocese plan to abstain from having meat and their other favorite food items, and lives mainly on fruits and vegetables. Catholics from all over the parishes would take turns to join the fast, prayer and adorations conducted in the diocesan headquarters for eight hours every day. Some 600 people attended the program on the opening day. It will conclude on March 30. "This is a people’s prayer for a cause. We have personally invited many to the marathon prayer sessions," said Melvyn Noronha, an organizer of the program. IB13606.1644
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