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Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Rome, Durga is not welcome

To the Director of USCIRF,

Evil persists, if we the good people stay silent. The bad incident is like a cancer which grows and swallows up communities and nations, it needs to be stopped. What action can you take? We the people of conscience request you to investigate this matter and bring a resolution to the exclusivism in Italy.

Nearly twelve years ago, a Hindu wedding took place in Lisbon in a catholic church, a simple wedding. The priest was ousted for giving the Hindu couple permission to place the Icon of Ganesha, I strongly protested it and took up with them. I had several intimidating calls from the Catholic members of the dioceses in California telling me shut up and back off, it was unChristian like for them to do it. Of course, that give me more challenge.

What we need to do it not to blame Christianity for the evils of a few fanatic men. We need to Isolate those reckless bigots and blame them for fascist attitudes, we will gain more support to support from the General public. Punish the individual bad guys, take them to court.

Let me know what I can do?

Mike Ghouse

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In Rome, Durga is not welcome


Kanchan Gupta

What does it mean to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome? It means to be humiliated, harassed and hounded by city officials who happen to be pious Christians. Alright, I could be utterly wrong in presuming they are pious since I have no independent confirmation of their piety or otherwise. But let’s get back to the question with which I began. Late Thursday night I was at the park near my house where the local Bengalis organise Durga Puja every year. It’s a raucous celebration of faith and culture. The food stalls are invariably hugely popular and there I was with my nine-year-old daughter, standing in a queue for kathi rolls. After what seemed like an interminable wait, it was our turn to be served. Just then my BlackBerry beeped. Balancing the piping hot rolls, dripping oil, tomato ketchup, green chilli sauce and lemon juice, in one hand, I tried to read the e-mail on my handset.

No luck. I got shoved around, nearly dropped both rolls and my phone, and decided to let the e-mail wait. Later, away from the crowd, I checked the e-mail and it was a fascinating story. Since the identity of the person who had sent the mail is not really relevant, let me reproduce the text: “The Municipal Police authorities of Rome have today withdrawn permission, granted three weeks ago, to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome. The cancellation came a few hours before the Ambassador of India was scheduled to inaugurate the Puja at 8 pm local time. No acceptable explanation has been given. This has caused the local Indian community the loss of thousands of Euros spent in preparatory arrangements. The same thing was done in the same manner in 2008 also. Please monitor developments.”

Now that’s awful, I told myself, here I am having kathi rolls and there they can’t even celebrate their own festival. On Friday, I called a friend in Rome who provided me with the latest details. Our Ambassador, Mr Arif Shahid Khan, a feisty man who has in the past taken up the issue of Sikhs being forced to take off their turbans at Italian airports, campaigned throughout the day, calling up officials, including the Mayor of Rome, and contacting members of the ‘Friends of India’ group in the Italian Parliament, arguing with them why permission for the Puja should be restored. By evening, the authorities had reversed their order and permission was granted to celebrate Durga Puja, which will now begin on Saturday, Ashtami — a full 48 hours behind schedule. Provided, of course, there is no last minute cancellation, as it happened on Thursday. Mr Khan will inaugurate the Puja, an honour he richly deserves.

The story behind the cancellation needs to be told, if only to point out that Christian countries in the West, whose Governments so blithely criticise the ‘lack’ of ‘religious freedom’ in India, have no compunctions about trampling on Hindu sentiments at home. After last year’s experience, when permission for celebrating Durga Puja in Rome was abruptly withdrawn by officials who cited specious reasons to justify their grossly unfair decision, the organisers, led by Mr Rajesh Sahani, a Sindhi from Kolkata who speaks flawless Bengali, took ample precautions this year. They were given permission to organise the Puja at Parko Centocelle, a public park on Via Cailina, Torpignattara. Three weeks ago, permission was granted for the Puja at the park and necessary formalities were completed.

Early this past week, the Puja organisers were told they could not use the park as a crime had been committed there and the location posed security-related problems. The organisers agreed to change the venue. Another park was selected, permission was given to celebrate Durga Puja there, and the preparations began all over again in right earnest. Then, like a bolt from the blue, at 4 pm on Thursday came the withdrawal of permission by the Municipal Police. The organisers were bluntly told to pack up and leave hours before Durga Puja was scheduled to begin with Akal Bodhon in the evening. Why? No reason was proffered.

Some officials are believed to have told the organisers that the cancellation of permission at the eleventh hour, both last year and this year, was meant to be “retaliatory action against the persecution of Christians in India”. It may be recalled that the President of Italy, Mr Giorgio Napoletano, has been vociferous in demanding that Europe should do more in support of Christians in India and to help them ‘affirm their right to religious freedom’. The Government of Italy has in the past summoned the Ambassador of India to convey to him that it has “deep concern and sensitivity for the ongoing inter-religious violence... that has caused the death of many Christians.” The Pope has been no less harsh in denouncing India.

There could be another reason, apart from its “deep concern” about the welfare of Christians in India, for Italy’s callous disregard of the sentiments of Hindus in that country. Although the Italian Constitution guarantees religious freedom, under the Lateran Treaty with the Vatican, Italy recognises only the three religions of Semitic origin — Christianity, Judaism and Islam. All other religions are no more than paganism and are to be shamed and shunned. The Vatican would not countenance any open breach of the Lateran Treaty; Italy would not want to be seen as recognising Hinduism.

“It’s only natural that Italy should have a surfeit of churches. But it’s the rejection of any other faith than Christianity, Judaism and Islam that explains why there are so many mosques but virtually no temples in Italy although this country has a large Hindu expatriate population,” my friend told me while regretting the attitude of the Government and the local authorities. According to him, there are only three temples in Italy: One in a garage in Venice; another at Frescolo and the third at Reggio Emilia. These survive at the mercy of local zoning officials.

But for Mr Arif Shahid Khan’s pro-active involvement — most Ambassadors tend to stay aloof from community affairs — this year too there would have been no Durga Puja in Rome. Indians in Italy owe him a debt of gratitude. So do Bangladeshis who are equal participants in this annual celebration of dharma’s victory over adharma, of the triumph of good over evil. Cultural and linguistic affinities unite Bengalis, irrespective of whether they are from the west or east of Padma, during this autumnal festival celebrated around the world.

Meanwhile, let’s not get carried away by the West’s bilious and bogus criticism of 'lackof' religious freedom in India and indulge in self-flagellation. Let the West look at its own ugly, septic warts. If Christians can celebrate Christmas in New Delhi, Hindus have the right to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome. This is non-negotiable.

-- Follow the writer on: http://twitter.com/KanchanGupta. Blog on this and other issues at http://kanchangupta.blogspot.com. Write to him at kanchangupta@rocketmail.com


  1. Thanks to Mr Arif Shahid Khan, he is a true Indian

    Ma Durga bless him and his family

  2. I am all up for freedom of choice and diversity however I strongly disagree with a hindu couple having their wedding at a Catholic Church an am offended that a statue would take place in a house that honors Christ. This alone is wrong, and in addition no mandir would ever hang a cross and allow songs worshiping Jesus to be sung. India does not exercise religious freedom- Christians have been and will continue to be persecuted, we will continue to be labled as "un-Indian" and the government heavily neglects Christian issues, the struggle between muslims and hindus has had a long history. I follow and am inspired by many of these emails however I cannot go along with this one.

  3. Dear Mike,
    As a Catholic theologian, I'd hope that prejudice against Hinduism and restrictions on religious freedom were not the basis for the problematic delays and denials of permits for Durga Puja in Rome, that it was merely the typical complex difficulties of getting anything done with Roman bureaucracy.

    Contemporary Catholic theology on religious liberty and the universal goals and ideals of all humanity since the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960's would definitely criticize restrictions on religious freedom, no matter what the religion. Nevertheless, such an official attitude is still dramatically new for Catholics, after centuries of adopting a favorable stance towards many restrictions on religious freedom, including the papacy's infamous treatment of Jews in Rome, forcing them into one of the worst areas of Rome and locking them in at night for nearly 300 years from the mid-16th until the mid-19th century. Only the Risorgimento freed the Jews from their restricted ghetto in the 1870's.

    Adapting to these newfound ideals has not necessarily been easy or consistent. Having lived in Rome myself for three years, I perceive that an influx in immigrants and changes in population and culture sometimes arouse fear of difference among many Italians. Unfortunately, this fear can sometimes express itself in religious, racial, or cultural prejudices. Italians are learning how to maintain pride in an Italian culture that is faced with a new cosmopolitan Europe. I would hope that the Christian faith and the leaders of the Catholic Church would be able to shed light on this situation, encouraging communication and understanding and dialogue. However, sometimes it's easier to see the failures of others rather than the difficulties in one's own yard.

    Thanks for letting people know about this situation.

    Best regards,
    John Norris
    Theology Department
    University of Dallas

  4. Dear John,

    Thanks for sharing the position of the Church.
    I believe wrongs are done by individuals and not the religion, no matter what religion. I certainly would share this with the group.

    Our role as spiritual and religious leaders is to mitigate conflicts and nurture good will.

    Mike Ghouse
    Alumni of UD.

  5. Sitting in India, I am looking at the Indian scene. A Hollywood actress was denied permission to enter a Hindu temple recently.

    In many temples of India, there are restrictions for scheduled castes, Dalits, and the non-Hindus. Similar restrictions are now being imposed in many mosques. A non-Muslim can not enter.

    We the believers of foundations of pluralism need to come out in the street to rationalize these situations. The people controlling these situations do not care internet comments. If we are really serious, lets come out from the comforts of blackberry and laptop.

    With love and brickbats,

  6. when was durga born?who were her parents?what did she accomplish?anything for the spiritual,emotional or societal welfare.when did she die and how?and where did she die?.Please do not tell me she was a god.there is only one GOD.If she was non god or less than a god, the authorities were right to question her and her followers genesis.h.s.khalsa.former ambassador to norway who quit his job in protest against indian armys invasion of the GOLDEN TEMPLE,THE HEART OF EVERY SIKH.

  7. Mike Ghouse
    We are all one people, and any time there is discrimination against one of the 7 billion of us, we all need to band togther and do the right thing- speak up.

  8. I wonder when people will stop looking at skin color and culture rather than open their eyes to see that we are ALL part of the human race.

  9. Good job Mike for bringing up this to our attention. Let us educate others as to what is going on.

  10. How frustrating! Having to address the same stupid issues over and over again is exhausting. What is it that causes otherwise intelligent people to fall into this mentality when it comes to granting religious freedom to others and by what authority does the POLICE have to stop something like this? Police departments are facilitating organizations, not legislative ones. Where are these orders coming from and who is responsible for issuing them? It almost always comes down to one high ranking person, inciting the others.

  11. Deva Phillip RamsaroopSeptember 28, 2009 at 10:04 AM

    Lack of understanding and appreciation and the willingness to explore probably lead to this; but most of all because of a doctrine based on fear. This fear is used for control purposes and for political motives that has kept Europe in the 'Dark Age' where thinkers like DaVinci, Galileo were considered heretics. Such fear caused the powerful Roman... Read More Empire to 'hijack' Christianity and imposed doctrines that would make Jesus cringe today; such doctrines still exist. Although I am disappointed to hear of this I am not surprised by Italian people. Here in the USA there are places where Darwin's research is banned schools and students have to accept that this universe was created 5000 yrs ago ignoring other faith groups and scientists who say otherwise. I am not surprised by the very Italians from where these seeds were planted a long time ago.

  12. How frustrating! Having to address the same stupid issues over and over again is exhausting. What is it that causes otherwise intelligent people to fall into this mentality when it comes to granting religious freedom to others and by what authority does the POLICE have to stop something like this? Police departments are facilitating organizations, not legislative ones. Where are these orders coming from and who is responsible for issuing them? It almost always comes down to one high ranking person, inciting the others.

  13. Disheartening though, I don't find anything new in just not allowing to perform Durga Pooja in Rome. Why talk about huge statues & sculptures of non-Semitic religions not permitted for public display. It has been irritatingly irrational not to allow any non Muslim in and around the cities of Mecca and Medina. Today's law enforcing Muslims forget ... Read Morethat by a Quranic injunction in 624 CE, they were ordered to turn their faces towards Kaba in Mecca while offering prayers, the Kaba was housing 360 pagan deities and all of them remained there till 628 CE when Mecca was captured by Muslims and idols removed. For all those years Muslims continued bowing and prostrating towards "Idol packed" Kaba, but today no non Muslim can enter that land.

  14. Most of the Gulf countries do not allow idols of Gods and Goddesses to be taken into their countries by a great many non Muslims living there, and this certainly includes Saudi Arabia. To me it sounds very strange to see the Muslims criticizing the Rome Government.

  15. The matter here is diffrent, though all faiths are one, I am sure we Hindus would feel uncomfortable to place Jesus in our temples, or Mslims to place Jesus in thier mouselems.
    So, we should consider other faith and thier sentimentalities while performing within thier boundaries.

  16. Shariq, we have to stay away from stereotyping people. What the few in the government of Saudi Arabia do is not reflective on Muslims any where including Saudi Arabia. You can apply this principle anywhere and anytime to any faith.

    I hope you are not saying that; if Hindus are mistreated only Hindus should speak, only Jews can speak against Holocaust or only protestants should speak for England and Catholics for Ireland? My friend we need to go beyond the fragile walls - NO religions teaches one to be exclusive, it is human to err, it is human to do good. There is more good in the world than evil. Evil is miniscule but ugly and potent.

    As a Muslim I will defend the divinity of Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christians, Wicca or any one's faith. There are Hindus, Christians, Jews and other who would defend likewise. Let this start with you and I... no barriers between us and any one the earth... those who keep, let's pray that they would see the value in inclusivism i.e., Pluralism.

  17. Let's look at this in the opposite side. Do we Hindus, allow a cross, bible, Quran into our shrines??
    Let alone this, the great singer Jesudas was not let into a temple in Kerala since he was a Christian. Mrs. Indira Gandhi was bot allowed into Puri Jaganath temple since she was married to a Parsi.
    This narrow mindedness is everywhere. So, why do we have to blame Rome??

  18. India has lot to offer and cud espouse the vatcan ..

    we adore Teressa, in great esteem while a 50-50 recognition-hatred for/against , sectarian among her own religion , and SHE was decorated with sainthood at the fag end of her journey by vatican while every Indian worshiped her as such .. we have a lot to offer .. for showcasing what tolerating , co existence means..

  19. Wait a minute! Let's not fly off the track by mis-stating what's happened in Rome. We're not talking about allowing representations of other deities in already established shrines or temples of other religions. We're talking about a festival celebration in a public park! Too bad Vatican City -- which is its own country with its own government, can't keep it's tentacles out of the legislative bodies of the rest of Rome. Shameful.

  20. Vats au r talking of an isolated,, mother teressa, is the xample to reverse U..
    and go to bharat maata mandir built by swami satyamitranand ji , u wud hv to regret asserting here..

  21. Nivedita...a correction....Muslims believe in Jesus (Isa A.S.) he is mentioned in the Quran as a prophet and his Second Coming... Muslims believe that Hadhrat Isa (A.S.) was raised to heaven. According to Hadith, he is on the second heaven. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam=Peace be upon him) mentioned, "During the Meraj (Ascension), I met ... Read MoreHadhrat Isa (A.S.) on the second heaven. I found him of medium stature, reddish white. His body was so clean and clear, that it appeared as though he had just performed ghusal (ablution, cleansing of the entire body) and come." In another Hadith, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) mentioned to the Jews that, " Hadhrat Isa (A.S.) is not dead, he will most surely return to you before Qiyamat (the Day of Judgement)." May Allah Guide all people to the Truth. Aameen.
    Mike....Right we need to speak up at such times and show solidarity and unity against discriminations and racism in any country!!

  22. Constraint of any sort is bad and can lead to all sorts of problems.Those who have witnessed the Durga Puja and the Dussehra celebrations in Kolkata know the colourful nature of this festival that attracts people of all Faiths and Communities.I think education is the only way to eradicte ignorance.

  23. Indeed, knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of another point of view. If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the uniqueuness endowed in each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

  24. I agree with u Mike totally.....segmentation is a result of one-sided n tht too a blinded vision.We Indians hv long history of Tolerance whn its comes to treating n respecting other religions....n we search for d same everywhere...

  25. I appreciate you fr initiating this.Some few years bck,Durga puja,Ganesh chturdashi...they were all area specific celebration,but now its everywhere wid same fervour....I m sure ur stand will bring result sooner than u r expecting....

  26. Yes, I would very much like to see the day when equitable inter religious justice prevails. A Muslim speaking for non Muslims, a Christian speaking for non Christians, a Hindu speaking for non Hindus and so on. I only wished that while talking about Rome, a Muslim should also condemn the un-Quranic ban on the entry of non Muslims in Mecca and Medina, as I do, time and again.

  27. Shariq, I value your sentiments and believe Mecca and Medina should be opened up to people of other faiths, after all it is God's house.

    It was open for a long time, indeed Guru Nanakji did the pilgrimage some 500 years ago. Prophet Muhammad had visitors in his mosque from every possible faith at that time, he met them and dialogued with them and offered them to pray in his mosque they way they prayed.

    Like you said, it is un-Quranic, but most practices in every faith are not faith based, they are a combination of culture, rituals and other social and political nuances. The King held an interfaith meeting in Medinah last year... let them take time to change, but change they will. Mahatma Gandhi, Gokhle and others did not change India in one stroke. ... Read More

    You, me and our friends will resist change, and would prabably refuse to listen to someone telling us to change the way we dress, eat or sleep. Change must come, it will be sustainable if it is gradual. That's what we want right?

  28. Saudi Arabia does NOT have sole proprietorship on Islam Shariq.....many Muslims like me do NOT prescribe to their views

  29. Me too, do not and would never subscribe to the views of whomsoever enforcing such inhuman laws, and that too at a place considered so sacred! But, unfortunately Saudi Arabia does exercise "sole proprietorship" over Hijaz, which includes Mecca & Medina with a tacit but too conspicuous approval of all those (over 10 million) Muslims visiting the ... Read Moresacred places round the year. I personally know an umpteen number of Muslims who after returning back from Hajj and Umrah, boastfully express their appreciation on the ban on non Muslims. First, let all the Muslims think it to be an undesirable practice, at least in their hearts. Surprisingly, nobody even talks about it. Most of the non Muslims are unaware of this but I am talking about Muslims. Why do not majority of Muslims view it to be an erroneous practice?

  30. A rejoinder to Lubna Ahmed: Quran nowhere mentions about second coming of Jesus.

  31. Concluding my comments on this subject, I'll put on a very simple question. To how many Islamic Gulf countries, could this same colorful statue of Goddess Durga on display here, be taken? May be one (Oman) or two?
    I would surely expect an answer to this.

  32. Shariq, thank you for your contribution to the disscussion. Let's keep the focus on Durga in Rome.

  33. Sheikhomer Binmohammed LabediSeptember 28, 2009 at 10:14 AM

    Alhamdulilah a few gems are gathering on this platform to potray the universal message LOVE ALL HATE NONE

  34. Yes! That's it....Love all Hate none!!....This is the essence of Islam....its one's sole Submission to Allah only....and to respect all the other religions as well....:)

  35. Mike "Nearly twelve years ago, a Hindu wedding took place in Lisbon in a catholic church, a simple wedding. The priest was ousted for giving the Hindu couple permission to place the Icon of Ganesha, I strongly protested it and took up with them. I had several intimidating calls from the Catholic members of the dioceses in California telling me shut up and back off, it was un-Christian like for them to do it. Of course, that give me more challenge."

    I find the above comment most ridiculous! Looks like Mike has no conception of Monotheism or Monotheistic religions!

    If eating beef is sacrilegious to Brahmins, then placing idols in a church, mosque or synagogue is even more so in monotheistic religions. Would Mike ask Brahmins to eat beef as a mark of tolerance and solidarity with Muslims and Christians? How about Muslims slaughtering cows in a Temple on Eid-ul-Adha? Perhaps Mike can demonstrate his pluralistic credentials by arranging for cow slaughter sacrifices in a local Dallas temple for the upcoming Eid-ul-Adha festivities? Would you do it Mike? Take it as a challenge, will you?


  36. AA,


    The priest had allowed the marriage to take place, when it was all done, someone made life difficult for the priest. My protest was about the derogatory comments made, if they did not allow it in the first place, nothing would have become of it.

    If you turn the keys to the Mosque over to some one to have a Christian wedding (Mosque is not for that purpose to begin with) and if they have pork served in the mosque... you don't curse them, and you do not denigrate their faith, you will be polite to them, but will explaing the sanctity of the place. Even firing the Imam should not be considered, if Imam was given that authority and he made that mistake.

    This has nothing to do with Monotheism, it has to do with how one is treated.

    As Muslims we need to equip our minds with seeing other possibilities and other versions of the story.

    Jazak Allah Khair

  37. It is more then necessary the unification of religion freedon in Rome Italy where is your HOPE: the center of social activity, or your HEART: the center of motherly mind, Where is your LOVE: the center of live and the purpose of God to create you and me humankind. Our Heavenly Parents is crying out for peace and harmony between (religions or better saying Families of the world our Brothers & Sisters)

    >To be in harmony with other is the first step toward happiness.
    >Be a hero of love and hero of heart. No matter how great a man, women, religion, nation or society may be, you will be a failure unless you conquer the hearth of mankind. Father Moon The way of God's will.

    posted By Lola Somemoto member of UPF and unification of religion for world peace community outreach Living for the sake of other for ONE family under God Aju. Grand Prairie Tx

  38. It is more then necessary religion freedom in Rome Italy

  39. This intolerant behaviour of he Church is very much present in New Delhi also. My neice was to get married and we hired the hall in St.Cathedral Church opposite Gole Dakhana, New Delhi. The Church officials did not allow us to up the pandal for traditional Hindu marriage inside the compound of the Cathedral. We were asked to put up our pandal for the actual marriage around fire outside the campus of the Cathedral on the roadside.

  40. It is good to know that prompt action restored the Puja. It is also heartening to note that the person who fought to restore the right to the Durga Pooja celebration is not a Hindu but a Muslim.
    People from India need to stand up for all other Indians when we are overses and not restrict solidarity to people that we share caste, language or religion with.

  41. Much worse most freedom of religion champion practise double standards.
    www.uscirf.blogspot.com is a dedicated blog advocating refroms at uscirf to stop double-standard and contradiction.

    It provides a comparative analysis of india report vs. other report and highlights several shortcoming like Lack of standard structure and consistency across reports, Conflict of Interest, Lack of transparency and disclosure, Quality of content, Lack of independent verification of IRFA compliance, Faulty premise, Failure to represent both sides in an intra-member conflict etc.
    For example:
    Most USCIRF reports are critical of police excesses like detainment, profiling, harassment and usage of lethal weapons during civil unrest. For India, USCIRF reports police profiling, harassment, detainment and two gun-battle deaths of Muslim youth during police investigation of several 2008 terror bomb blasts which killed 308 and injured many more. As a rule, USCIRF acts as a champion of human rights and civil rights of accused civilian. However, there is one exception to rule. USCIRF India report has listed five events of civil unrest and mass rioting. In one incident alone police detained 35,552 civilians, fired 10,000 rounds of bullets killing 170 civilians and injuring many more. In recent times, only few civil disorders like Tiananmen Square witnessed higher usage of lethal weapons, killing and detention of civilians. Indian police response to civil unrest and rioting is too late, too crude and too lethal. Need is for rapid response, preparedness, prevention, usage of non-lethal weapons like Taser and greater protection of civil rights. However, USCIRF displayed little civil right or human right violation concerns around massive arrests and usage of lethal force during civil unrest. On the contrary, it is focused on punishing the accused. It correctly laments about sloppy prosecution and poor conviction rate. It describes Indian police response as “inadequate” meaning “too little”. It states “Mass arrests following the Orissa violence did not translate into the actual filing of cases”. In it's righteous zeal to punish, is USCIRF overlooking the fact that mass arrests without filing cases probably violates Article 9 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

  42. Most of the countries across continents allow Durga Puja festival. Please find the list of Durga Puja Festivals in Countries like USA, UK, GERMANY, IRELAND, RUSSIA, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, JAPAN, CHINA, HONG KONG, SINGAPORE, UAE, sWITZERLAND, AUSTRIA, BANGLADESH etc etc........
    List here: http://www.borakvalley.com/2009/09/overseas-durga-puja-abroad.html

  43. I am a Hindu from India and I feel that it was not appropriate on the part of the Hindu couple to celebrate their wedding in a Christian place of worship. It was even more inappropriate to place a statue or idol or icon of Ganesha in a church. We all know that both Christianity and Islam are against idol worship. Therefore, it was utterly insensible to place an idol in a church. Secondly, both Islam and Christianity believe that their religions alone are true religions, others are pagans and heathen. Christianity beleives that Jesus is the only begotten son of God, all others must be converted to Christianity. Similarly, Islam believes that non-believers i.e. non-Muslims must be either converted or killed. The entire world has a long history of wars in the name of religion. So, was it not stupid on the part of the Hindu couple to marry in a church? India itself has a long history of communal clashes. India was partitioned into mini-India, Pakistan and Banglagesh due to Hindu-Muslim clashes. Jammu and Kashmir continues to be on the boil. Hindu-Christian clashes are on the rise. In this backdrop, the Hindu couple should have had the sense not to celebrate their marriage in a church.

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