A small Catholic community in the village of Mangalawada (Karnataka) in India faces severe social boycott after refusing to appease Hindus gods. Until the government intervenes, this ban will continue to make life more difficult for these Christian families.
Following an outbreak of Cholera in the village, Hindu leaders announced means to mollify their gods and cast out evil. This involved special fasts on certain days and prohibition of work on all “inauspicious days” including all Tuesdays and Thursdays, which coincidentally are the only days when water supply comes to the village. And when Catholic villagers stopped adhering to these orders and continued to do their regular work on those days, the majority of Hindus weren’t pleased.
In late August, village elders declared a total ban on interacting with Catholics and anyone caught doing so is fined with $11 for the violation. Similar demands have been made in the past, but this social boycott seems more serious and strongly implemented: Hindus have stopped renting, selling and buying anything from Christians; Hindu kids have been withdrawn from church-run schools; and Hindu farmers have stopped hiring Christian workers.
“We are Christians and we are not bound to follow Hindu religious practices,” Father Philip Rock of St. Sebastian Parish in Mangalawada village says, “We have our freedom, [and] another faith should not be imposed on our people, and their normal lives should not be disturbed like this.” Although officials are optimistic that the boycott will “die out soon”, the Catholic community in Karnataka continues to experience the socio-economic impact of the boycott, until the government resolves the situation.
Meetings between parties have taken place since early September and, with the presence of police, government officials cautioned Hindu extremists not to cause further trouble and have directed the police to take necessary action against those who continue to stir up problems.
Similar problems have also crept up in the smaller villages of India, and until the government decides to enforce the right of religious freedom, these acts of religious persecution and intolerance will continue to hurt and divide Indian society.