Religious Conversion is violence – A Real Life Story

I heard this poignant story of a lady who was converted into Christianity early in her life:

When she was  very young (perhaps before she turned 7 years), she was converted to Christianity along with her parents. Christian missionaries are known to do this with aggression luring poor people with offerings of money and gifts. Once conversion is done, the missionaries leave them to fend for themselves after supporting them economically for a temporary period.This lady eventually landed in an NGO which provides nursing care services for the aged patients who are bed-ridden and staying home.These nurses have to keep hopping from place to place looking for similar assignments. In one of her assignments she happened to land into a cultured Brahmin household. The family is passionate about classical carnatik music. When this lady listened to Veena being played by the lady of the house, tears welled up in her eyes. When questioned, she started sobbing inconsolably. She said: “In my younger days I used to sing classical tunes along with my mother and I used to enjoy it thoroughly. However, after the conversion, I was forced to put a complete stop to singing classical music. And they even stopped me from going to temples. Instead, I started going to churches where I was forced to sing listless songs on the Christ. So when I saw you playing on Veena, madam, I was reminded of my childhood days. Now, I have decided to give up going to church completely, madam”.

It’s a rather sad story of a person being cut off from her roots. It’s, after all, one’s roots which gives one identity. Whoever deprives one of roots and identity is committing a grave crime and an act of violence. It’s a violence on the mind and the spirit. I feel there should be a legislation banning religious conversions of young people below the age of 18 years. After all, if a person is considered a minor below the age of 18 years for all economic transactions, why cannot we apply the same rule for religious conversions?

Some time back I read a book which discusses the issue of roots and how people can get affected emotionally if they are deprived of the knowledge about their roots. Slave trade in America made it impossible for people to trace their origins. As their identities were totally erased, today millions of African-Americans have no idea of where they come from. Today, Science is trying to undo the damage partly through DNA analysis. Geneticists have been able to trace the histories of several populations – African-Americans, Jews, Indian untouchables etc. The book describes a touching story of an African-American couple who before their marriage managed to trace their ancestry through DNA mapping by a company called ‘Roots for Real’. The couple managed to bring something from their ancestral traditions into their ceremony. They believed that their children can now grow up with a strong sense of identity and heritage.
DNA seems to be the most intact record of our families, our lands, culture and customs. The Hindu tradition of assigning a Gotra for every family seems to stem from the same need for preserving one’s identity.

Published in: on November 8, 2014 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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