Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Families ostracised for conversion to Christianity

Nellore, Nov. 14: Seven families belonging to the fishermen community of Kottasathram have been ostracised by village elders for converting to Christianity. They have been treated like outcasts for the last one and a half years for embracing Christianity and for refusing to take part in the Srirama Navami festival at the local temple in August 2004.

While four members of the family of Katamgari Mangamma have not been allowed to step into the village after their conversion, the other six families were asked to leave the village. Ms Mangamma said that she was unable to donate money for the temple festival because her husband’s death had left her a pauper. "I was unable to run my family and decided to convert on the advice of some of my neighbours", she said. "I wanted to make a living with the blessings of Jesus Christ".

The angry village elders, however, said that only those offering prayers to Lord Ram will be allowed to stay on in the village. This decision was supported and villagers were warned not to have any connection with the converted families. Saddened by the social boycott, the families left the village and constructed huts in the forest land, which is one and a half km away.

However, the vendetta of the villagers was not over and they allegedly destroyed the borewells dug by the families. The villagers have also reportedly persuaded forest officials to destroy the huts they built in forest land. This has left the families without a roof over their heads.

To add to their woes, village elders have warned nearby Pottemma Nagar residents not to give the families water and other necessities. When one Levamma went into the village with a Bible five days ago, the villagers drove her out and asked the families to leave the area by November 15.

(Asian Age 15/11/05)