X
UCA News

India

CHRISTIANS UPSET AT TAMIL NADU CHIEF MINISTER´S PORTRAIT AS MOTHER MARY

Updated: March 07, 1995 05:00 PM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Share this article :
Christians in Tamil Nadu state in southern India have demanded a public apology from Chief Minister Jayalalitha Jayaram after her party workers launched posters portraying her as the Blessed Mother.

Posters depicting Jayaram as the Blessed Mother and as Adiparasakthi (Hindu´s supreme deity) appeared in Madras, capital of this southern Indian state, on Feb. 23, the eve of the chief minister´s 47th birthday.

Posters showed Jayaram dressed like the Blessed Mother with a crown on her head, scepter in her right hand and a crowned baby Jesus held in her left arm.

Protests came mostly from Christians and opposition politicians.

Archbishop James Arul Das of Madras-Mylapore called the posters "most painful" to Tamil Nadu and Indian Christians, and Salesian Bishop Malayappan Chinnappa of Vellore warned of dire consequences unless sponsors removed them.

Jayaram ordered the posters removed Feb. 26 to "avoid hurting religious sentiments of different sections of people."

The posters were sponsored by G.R. Gopi, assistant secretary of the north Madras district Akhila India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK, all India Anna federation for the uplift of Dravidians).

Captions for the 90-centimeter-long, 45-centimeter-wide color posters read: "Mother, who have offered government cradles for the orphaned girl children, I adore you," and includes a miniature photograph of Gopi.

Observing that the posters equated the chief minister with the Mother of God, Archbishop Arul Das said Christians will not tolerate such attempts.

In a letter to "our beloved chief minister," he said the Christian community was "most pained" by the posters and requested her to remove them and "ensure no such incident occurs in future."

Students of Stella Maris College in Madras sat on the road Feb. 25 and three schools of Fatima Church in Tambaram, a Madras suburb, remained closed Feb. 28 to protest against the posters.

The English-language Indian Express and Tamil-language Dina Mani dailies in Madras published photos of the posters and said they failed to foster interreligious dialogue but helped magnify Jayaram´s image.

They said her birthday fete "brought about very sad and painful situations" because most Tamils venerate the Blessed Mother as Mary, Help of Christians.

Columnist P.K. Balachandran called Jayaram´s birthday celebrations a "festival of sycophancy" and accused cadres of glorifying their leader and "abjectly surrendering to her and dedicating all to her" to get her blessing.

Her followers are naming things after her, including a new variety of rice, Madras´ air-conditioned bus corporation, a basketball stadium, children´s heart surgery scheme, a child welfare scheme, a film city and several model schools. JJ (Jayalalitha Jayaram) satellite TV channel is to air April 14.

Tamil Nadu opposition party leader V. Gopalasamy condemned what he called the deifying of Jayaram, who, he alleged, heads "a corrupt government that perpetrated atrocities against women."

Gopalasamy said people will punish those who use religion for popularity.

But S. Karunamoorthy, a AIADMK officer, told UCA News Feb. 26 that the chief minister is "dearer to the people of Tamil Nadu than their guardian spirits."

He said Jayaram´s "love and concern for the people" helped Tamil Nadu "march forward in its over-all growth and advancement."

Jayaram launched welfare schemes for women and her Cradle Baby Scheme cares for unwanted girl children in a state noted for female infanticide, he said.

The Jayaram government also opened all-women police stations in all districts, launched employment schemes for women and started an industrial estate for women near Madras to "prove that she is our immediate goddess."

While thanking her party members for their loyalty, Jayaram said their devotion prompted some party members to deify her, which she did not want.

Last Christmas, opposition party politicians criticized Jayaram for addressing a Christmas day service at Santhome Cathedral in Madras.

END

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 
Contribute and get the Mission in Asia PDF Book/e-Book Free!
Contribute and get the Mission in Asia PDF Book/e-Book Free!
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia