The villagers of Kesalingayapalli in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh erected a huge warning sign at the entrance of the village that reads: ‘Changing religion is equal to changing one"s own mother’
Warning: As everyone in our village is a Hindu, religious propagation by other religious people is prohibited. If anyone disobeys this warning severe actions will be taken. - By Kesalingayapalli villagers. " Changing religion is equal to changing one"s own mother"
The fact that Christian evangelists have reached far and wide in our country and attempted to convert people by hook or crook is a long known fact. While many have succumbed to allurements or false promises of the evangelists, many have stood up to their machinations and have thwarted efforts to convert them. The bold move of the villagers of Kesalingayapalli to stand up to the evangelists and say ‘ NO ’ to conversion is one such example which the entire country should be proud of.
The problem with proselytisation is not new to Andhra Pradesh or its villages. Villages near Kesalingayapalli and the state, in general, have been grappling with the issue for many decades now. Evangelists even had the support from few governments in the then undivided Andhra Pradesh. Such political support had emboldened them to pursue their nefarious activities unquestioned and unhindered. Few Evangelists had become all-powerful and were known to be close to a former Chief Minister from the Congress. They openly abused Hindu dharma, its practices, attacked their traditions for decades. Official apathy to counter proselytisation activities had left hundreds of affected villages in the quandary. In such a scenario, the villagers of Kesalingayapalli have given a ray of hope.
Kesalingayapalli is a village in the Mydukur Mandal of Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. All the families are Hindu and are proud adherents of their culture and tradition. The Grama Devata Gangamma temple, Shri Rama Temple and the Anjaneya temple are the cultural centres of the village. Despite threats to their way of life over the centuries, the villagers of Kesalingayapalli for generations have followed Hindu dharma in letter and spirit. But all this changed when in the recent past, a few families in the village got converted to Christianity. This came as a rude cultural shock to everyone.
For more than two decades, evangelists had been trying to lure villagers to convert. Money, jobs, gifts and many other emoluments were offered regularly for the gullible people. Many were persuaded to attend ‘ healing camps ’ where recovery from ailments was faked. Consequently, many innocent people from nearby villages had converted over the last few years. As the proselytisation activities threatened to erode their very cultural edifice, the villagers of Kesalingayapalli stood up as one and decided to take the issue head-on.
In June 2017, the villagers met in the panchayat meeting and decided to put a stop to all conversion activities and take all measures to keep evangelists out of their village. They adopted a resolution to the effect. A huge warning sign was erected at the two entrances of the village which alerted people about the ban on religious conversions and proselytisation activities in the village.
KP Narayan, a Panchayat member says, “ It was a collective decision of all the villagers. The elders of the village were also part of the resolution. No outside people or organisations were involved in taking this measure ” . When asked if they faced any issues after adopting the resolution, he said, “ We haven"t faced any problem from the government till now. But the Circle Inspector of the local police station visited the village and enquired about the resolution after it appeared in few media outlets. We told him that it was a collective panchayat decision and appraised him of the reasons for the same. Beyond this, no one has approached us or desisted us from following our resolution, ” he says.
(Read more in the coming issue of Organiser Weekly)