TITLE: “GHAR WAPASI” BY 7TH DAY ADVENTISTS
The news story “Church turned into ‘temple’ after 72 Valmikis reconvert to Hinduism” written by Eram Agha was published on Times of India on August 28th, 2014.
This article begins by discussing the “successful ghar wapasi” meaning the successful reconversion of seventy-two Valmikis, who had become Adventist Christians in 1995. A purification ceremony took place in the church in Asroi as part of the reconversion of the Christians. Following the reconversion a church located in Aligarh, India that belonged to the Seventh Day Adventists was turned into a temple and decorated with a portrait of Shiva.
The article then talks about Khem Chandra, a spokesperson and leader of the Dharam Jagran Vivad party in Aligarh who believes that this process should be called reconversion instead of conversion because the people left their ancestral religion by choice and today they realize that converting into Christians was a mistake and have decided to come back.
Next, we move into a discussion dealing with the news of the reconversion spreading, which results in tension build up and detectives of the Local Intelligent unit converging on the spot. A man names Anil Gaur said that he left the Hindu religion in the beginning because he was unhappy with the caste system in Hinduism but he explains that he found himself no better off being a Christian. He explains that there was no celebration of Christmas and that the missionaries just built a church where people could get married and that was all. Another story told by Rajendra Singh indicates that he too was happy to reconvert back to Hinduism because he felt that Mata Devi, a Hindu God punished him for abandoning his faith.
Then a lawyer and community leader in Aligarh named Osmond Charles says that he is not convinced that Christians are deciding to reconvert on their own. He believes that this could be the sign of a Hindu nation in the making. Also, Father Jonanthan Lal disagrees with the fact that the purification ceremony took place inside a church that was once owned by the Seventh Day Adventists. He says that “Faith is a personal matter but havan inside a church is not.”
The article concludes discussing how in the meantime there is a frightening silence happening in Asroi. Villagers hurry inside their homes and claim that they no nothing about the reconversion.
In my opinion an individual has the right to choose their faith and has the right to chose which religion they wish to follow. If an individual decides to convert to a different religion on his or her own terms then so be it. But an individual being forced to convert to a different religion as a result of political pressure is wrong. I completely disagree with the caste system in India and the fact that poor people are looked down upon and treated differently than higher caste people.
I also disagree with the fact that Christian churches are being converted into temples in India and that ‘’purification’’ ceremonies are taking place inside these churches. In my opinion if the Hindu’s want to have a temple in a certain area/town in India then they should build a temple of their own instead of taking away churches that belong to other religious groups. What I believe to be a strategy of the hardliners to convert all the Christians into Hindu’s is wrong. I believe that they are trying to say that everyone volunteered to convert to Hinduism so that they could try to prove that there is no need for churches in the area because there are no Christians living there anymore therefore using this as an excuse to convert the churches to temples.