Category : India

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Azariah

Emmanuel, God with us, who didst make thy home in every culture and community on earth: We offer thanks for the raising up of thy servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to thy love without concern for class or caste, and by his labors for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give thee glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, India, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) Tunku Varadarajan: India’s Imaginary ‘Love Jihad’–Judges break up the marriage of a Hindu woman who converted to Islam

This is the story of Hadiya, currently the most famous woman in India. Like any person of modest profile rocketed into national headlines, she’d rather be leading an anonymous life. But her parents—and the Supreme Court of India—will not let her.

Hadiya, a medical student, was born 25 years ago into a Hindu family in the southern state of Kerala. In 2015 she converted to Islam, and last year she married a Muslim man. In the process, she changed her Hindu given name from Akhila Ashokan to the adoptive Muslim Hadiya.

Her parents, appalled by the decision, urged the courts to annul her marriage in December 2016. They contended that she had converted to Islam under duress. Worse, they alleged that their daughter’s husband, Shafin Jahan, was involved in terrorism and intended to traffic her to Syria.

In a judgment that was startling in its paternalism and sexism, the Kerala High Court annulled Hadiya’s marriage, holding that she could not possibly have converted and married of her own free will.

Read it all.

Posted in Hinduism, India, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(Indian Express) Electoral Commission serves notice to R Catholic archbishop for letter seeking prayers for election

Gujarat Election Commission on Saturday served a notice on Thomas Macwan, Archbishop of Gandhinagar and sought an explanation on his letter issued to the Catholic community seeking prayers to ensure the election of leaders who “remain faithful to the Indian Constitution” so that the country can be “saved of nationalist forces”.

The notice, served through the District Election Officer of Gandhinagar, asks the Archbishop to explain why his appeal should not be viewed as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

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Posted in India, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(WSJ) Mary Sherry–I Can’t Understand a Word My Priest Says

Now grown up, those pagan babies have cellphones, careers, Twitter accounts and many trappings of modern life. Some have become priests and nuns after learning English as the language of commerce in their native lands. Many see opportunities for ministry in the U.S. Some come as political refugees; others find salaries are higher here, enabling them to send money home to support their families. Still others find that life in the U.S. is just more comfortable. Most see the U.S. as spiritually needy—so privileged that its people no longer crave sacramental care.

No matter what motivates them, opportunity knocks loudly. They’re welcomed especially by U.S. bishops eager to avoid closing parishes for lack of clergy. That the U.S., once a rich source of missionaries, has become mission territory in less than 50 years is amazing.

The cultural differences can be unsettling. Some of these missionaries are unsparing in their criticism of matters like street-dress altar-server apparel, the custom in many American parishes. Add this to hard-to-comprehend English, and it’s no wonder the people in the pews get annoyed and check their emails—or start shopping for another parish.

Yet there can be a bright side to these cultural differences. Our pastor told us during a recent Friday Mass that a new priest from India would be coming to learn the cultural ropes for a few weeks before moving on to another assignment. He urged us to welcome the new priest at the weekend Masses with small gifts—some flowers or even cookies. We’d never done this with an American priest, but apparently it is an Indian tradition.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., India, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(WSJ) Tunku Varadarajan–Holy Cows That Weren’t: Hindu radicals’ beef with India’s bovine butchers is woefully undercooked.

In the past year India has been witness to numerous gruesome public murders of men suspected of eating beef or transporting ostensibly sacred cows for slaughter. A band of radicals calling themselves gau-rakshak, or cow-protectors, may lay claim to being the world’s first terrorists in a bovine cause. Yet this intolerant movement’s appeal to religion is greatly at odds with the facts.

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Posted in Animals, Hinduism, India, Religion & Culture

Michiko Kakutani reviews ‘Ants Among Elephants,’ a Memoir About the Persistence of Caste

Gidla, who now works as a conductor on the New York City subway, conveys the strain of living in the sort of abject poverty she knew as a child, where some neighbors were skeletal from hunger, and an apple was a precious Christmas treat. She chronicles the horrifying violence that could break out between the police and Maoist rebels, and among local hooligans, hired at election time to intimidate voters. And she captures the struggles of women like her mother to pursue careers in the face of caste and misogynist bias, while raising children and helping to support, in her case, as many as two dozen relatives.

When asked about caste — and in India, she says, “you cannot avoid this question” — Gidla writes that an “untouchable” like herself has a choice: “You can tell the truth and be ostracized, ridiculed, harassed,” or “you can lie.” If people believe your lie, she goes on, “you cannot tell them your stories, your family’s stories. You cannot tell them about your life. It would reveal your caste. Because your life is your caste, your caste is your life.”

In these pages, she has told those family stories and, in doing so, the story of how ancient prejudices persist in contemporary India, and how those prejudices are being challenged by the disenfranchised.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, India

Movie recommendation–"Lion"

We finally went last night for Valentine’s Day–loved it.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Australia / NZ, Children, India, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Azariah

Emmanuel, God with us, who didst make thy home in every culture and community on earth: We offer thanks for the raising up of thy servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to thy love without concern for class or caste, and by his labors for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give thee glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, India, Spirituality/Prayer

(HT) Sonal Kalra: Adultery not cruelty, says Indian Supreme Court. Really?

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday that adultery does not amount to mental cruelty per se runs the risk of treading a fine line between being seemingly progressive, and terribly detached from reality.
The remarks were made as the two-judge bench acquitted a man convicted by the high court for abetting his wife’s suicide, allegedly due to his affair with a woman colleague. While calling an extra-marital affair “illegal and immoral” and retaining it as a ground for divorce, the judges felt that it should still not draw criminal provisions under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, as the latter depends on evidence that the affair directly led to the suicide.
One wonders if in a country like India, the magnitude of social stigma attached to a woman whose husband left her for someone else can be ignored while defining cruelty.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, India, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Women

(Church Times) Church in South India celebrates mission’s bicentenary

Bishops and missionaries were among the tens of thousands of people to gather in the Nehru sports stadium in Kottayam, India, on Saturday, to celebrate 200 years of the Church Mission Society (CMS) in the country.

The public event, which began with a procession, fireworks, music, and speeches, was organised by the Church of South India. On Sunday, the Church commissioned 210 missionaries. It concluded four years of events marking two centuries since Thomas Norton first brought Christianity to the city of Alleppey, in what is now the diocese of Madhya Kerala, about 20 years after the foundation of CMS in London.

Hundreds of missionaries followed in his wake, championing the right to education for men, women, and children of all social classes. Their work resulted in the foundation of the CMS College (the oldest school in the country), and the CMS Press and Industrial School, in the diocese. Today there are about 27.8 million Christians in India: that is, 2.3 per cent of the population.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, India, Missions, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Henry Martyn

O God of the nations, who didst give to thy faithful servant Henry Martyn a brilliant mind, a loving heart, and a gift for languages, that he might translate the Scriptures and other holy writings for the peoples of India and Persia: Inspire in us, we beseech thee, a love like his, eager to commit both life and talents to thee who gavest them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, India, Spirituality/Prayer

(AP) Mother Teresa: 'Saint of the gutters' canonized at Vatican

Elevating the “saint of the gutters” to one of the Catholic Church’s highest honors, Pope Francis on Sunday praised Mother Teresa for her radical dedication to society’s outcasts and her courage in shaming world leaders for the “crimes of poverty they themselves created.”

An estimated 120,000 people filled St. Peter’s Square for the canonization ceremony, less than half the number who turned out for her 2003 beatification. It was nevertheless the highlight of Francis’ Holy Year of Mercy and quite possibly one of the defining moments of his mercy-focused papacy.

Francis has been dedicated to ministering to society’s most marginal, from prostitutes to prisoners, refugees to the homeless. In that way, while the canonization of “St. Teresa of Kolkata” was a celebration of her life and work, it was also something of an affirmation of Francis’ own papal priorities, which have earned him praise and criticism alike.

“Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer,” Francis said in his homily.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, History, India, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Women

(WSJ) Javier Martínez-Brocal–Teresa of Kolkata, From Mother to Saint

More than six decades after its founding, Missionaries of Charity now has more than 5,500 members following Mother Teresa’s credo in 133 countries. They work at leper colonies, hospices, orphanages, drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities. Hundreds of thousands of lay volunteers also contribute.

For her commitment to pluralism, as well as “the spirit that has inspired her activities,” she was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. After receiving the award, the already-famous nun achieved levels of popularity and influence second only to the pope, John Paul II. This in a church that supposedly oppresses women.

Mother Teresa’s ascension challenged the narrative that women couldn’t become significant players in the Catholic Church. In some ways, she was more powerful than the cardinals who select the pope, not all of whom had the personal relationship with John Paul II that Mother Teresa had.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, History, India, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(WSJ) Aatish Taseer–The Day I Got My Green Card

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, India, Pakistan, Politics in General, Theology

(CC) Philip Jenkins– Notes from the Global Church: Unequal dharmas in India

Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava: “All dharmas [truths, or religions] are equally valid.” Indians often cite this noble maxim, which was popularized by Mahatma Gandhi, and the country’s constitution remains firmly secular and democratic. In recent years, though, the country’s religious outlook has darkened to the point that minorities””including both Christians and Muslims””face dangers of severe persecution and violence.

The fact that that threat receives little attention in the West says much about our stereotypes of other world religions. If we saw a situation where tens of millions of Christians were being similarly maltreated by a Muslim regime, Western media and policy makers would speak out vigorously. But when the enemies of religious liberty are Hindu, members of a faith that Americans idealize, the public silence is deafening.

Although India’s Chris­tians do not represent a large proportion of the country’s vast population””only about 3 percent””they number about 40 million, comparable to the larger European nations. India’s Christians suffer from multiple disadvantages, especially because so many derive from people of low or no caste or from tribal communities on the margins of Hindu society. Official reluctance to accept the reality of conversions makes it difficult to assess the true extent of Christian numbers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Hinduism, History, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology