India: “Hindus Only,” Says Village in Andhra Pradesh

Source: Religion News Service, February 15, 2023

A decade ago the residents of Kesalingayapalli, a village in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, succeeded in building a temple to the Hindu god Ram, modeling their home as a place “rooted in Indian culture and tradition.”

Three years later, during the festival commemorating Ram’s birth, Bandi Venkatramana, a local farmer, erected an urgent red-and-white sign, known here as a saffron board, at the entrance to the quiet village.

It read: “In this village, everyone is a Hindu, hence people of other religions can’t propagate their faith here. If someone violates this warning, stern action will be taken against them. If you convert to a different religion, it’s akin to changing your mother.”

“If we see anyone carrying or distributing the Bible or Qur’an we first give them a couple of warnings,” said Sai Charan, a student living there. “If they don’t heed our warnings, we just beat them up.”

Read Hindus Only: How Religious Nationalism Has Spread Through India’s Villages for insights into the fears and concerns of these villagers.

Stories about inter-religious conflict seem everywhere these days. Read about ongoing pressure on Israel’s migrant churches (Middle East Concern). On the other hand, see Abrahamic Family House Serves as a Symbol of Opportunity in the UAE (INcontext Ministries).

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