Thursday, May 18, 2006

The changing face of Christianity in India

The Ban request
Finally the film “The Da Vinci Code” is cleared for release in India despite the opposition from Indian Christians. The censor board and special committee reviewed the film and told the distributors to add a disclaimer saying it is a work of fiction. I have read the book and found it is a good read. A good work of fiction. That’s it. It is, in no way influenced my belief nor it changed the way I see Christ & Christianity..
A bounty for the head of Dan Brown
So why Indian Christians reacted in such fierce way? The film is released in 36 countries including Italy. Why a particular Nicholas Almeida announced 110,000 RS as a reward to bring Dan Brown “Dead or Alive” in front of him. Okay, what is he going to do once he is brought to him? Slap him? Or sentence him to death? Wasn’t he acting like some other fanatics from UP, who announced a similar bounty for anyone who kill some Danish Cartoonists even though he denies it? Or was it just an attempt to gather some mileage and catapult himself into the limelight?
Changing Basics?
Over the years Christianity has suffered a lot. Right from the time of Christ to this date many of the followers been killed or battered. In India there are several cases comes into mind. Particularly The Graham Staines Case and the rape of Nuns in Orissa. And many more attacks on priests and church goers and destruction of churches. In Mumbai some Vandals disrupted a prayer meeting and beat up the pastor and devotees. All the while, Christians held peaceful marches and candle-light rallies but never were aggressive. That’s the fundamental of the religion. Tolerance and absolution. So why, in a rare gesture, Christian groups exploded? I am here trying to look beyond the film and trying to figure out the changing mindsets.
It has started with the changing scenario of world order. After 9/11 there was the War on Terror and Islam, as a group, is viewed as dangerous. Though a few unscrupulous elements in that society are terrorizing the world, the whole community had to suffer. As a result, even mild-mannered Muslims are forced to come out against US and most of Europe. For the poor and un-educated this translated as Christians. For them, US and Britain is Christians. The opportunistic leaders took full advantage of this situation and compared the present situation to Crusade. They were successful in furthering the divide. They were so successful in their anti-US protests and always got media mileage by their outrageous ways of protests. Then come the cartoon imbroglio which further underlined the effectiveness of violent protests. The entire world took notice of growing unrest and had to withdraw the cartoons.
On the other end of the spectrum, The Hindu organizations were always successful in their campaign. The Pravin Togadias, Sudarshans, Modis and Thackerays always held sway with the media and their inflammatory speeches fuelled the mob fury. They can bring down a centuries old shrine and still get away with it. When their shrines are attacked, Akshardam, Ayodhya Makeshift temple, the perpetrators are caught and the police action is swift. But when it comes to Christian churches being torn down or priests and Nuns are attacked, no one raises a finger.
Slowly and steadily this wrong conception, of violence getting notice, started seeping into their subconscious mind. The Film ‘Sins’ was the test case. The film, in which a Catholic priest was portrayed in a sexual manner ignited passion among the same group and protests were held.
Finally the Christian groups that is growing less tolerant to religious matters taking a leaf from the above mentioned religions. If they can do it, Why can’t us? is the question. Where this will lead the community, which is noted for its charity and tolerance is beyond my comprehension. But Indian Christians have finally turned a leaf and there won’t be a turning back.
May be we will see a blanket ban request regarding religious matters. From there onwards, no filmmaker can portray a deity in ill manner. No priests or Nuns can’t be depicted in it. No Purohits or Maulavis will ever hold a dark role. No churches or Mosques or Mandirs can’t be shown as the place of crime. And it’s an end to all protests regarding Films. Peace at last is here.


Anonymous said...

That's Bounty for Dan Brown's head, Shinu. Not Booty. ;)

Shinu Mathew said...

Sorr about the typo. I orrented it. Thx Anon :)

Honey Bunny said...

Nice to see a broadminded view on the topic while the very leaders of the Christian movement are up in arms. A good one, Mr. Mathew.