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Christmas Beyond The Manger

Christmas is celebrated around the globe every year, mostly with the portrait of mere babe Jesus lying in a manger of Bethlehem’s cold night. Homes decorated, cake baked, new costumes dressed, bells rang, cars parked, whispering the melodious wishes of ‘Joy to the World, the Lord has Come’ by breaking the ‘Silent Night, Holy Night‘ ‘“ that too for many is the occasion once in a year.

Celebration of Jesus’ birthday is focused around the manger for centuries, while the world has kept on fast wheel of changing. ‘Look beyond the manger’ is the intimation to all Christ loving followers.

At far and near, beyond the manger, unheard, unreported and hidden stories exit around the world. Beyond the manger, Indian churches and all those celebrate Christmas; will need to look at the unreported, unheard and hidden stories around world’s greatest democratic nation ‘“ India.

One of its unreported, unheard and hidden stories beyond the manger is the caste apartheid that existed in India for last three thousand years under the Brahmanical control. While celebrating Christmas year after years around the manger, India churches have failed to take note of caste and its apartheid, which also migrated within the Indian churches.

Churches and civil societies in North East India‘s tiny princely state – Manipur, trouble torn my beloved home state need to look beyond the manger. Socio-political, education and economic has reached its grievous level. Educational institutional remained closed for last four months. Times of India reported Manipur lowest state revenue of 2008, that minus 37% below the line. The nature did not cease to add the sorrow by 40% of rice crop production this year. Less we forget these challenges while celebrating Christmas, rather let us look beyond the manger.

India Christians have stayed long enough around the manger and failed to notice the world’s worst apartheid to humanity under caste system. And seemingly, the global church and the world were kept hidden from this reality.

When Christians think about Christ given commission, we often tend to dwell around the manger of preaching the message of Jesus half and the medical and educational services were provided optional role to get involved in society.

India Churches have failed to see the reality of hidden stories of caste, apartheid and exploitation in the world’s largest democracy country. Definitely, to make full sense of Jesus’ birthday celebration, will required His church to understand His mission noted in the gospel of St. Luke 4:18-19.

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send the liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.’

The need of the hour to look beyond the manger is to see the two faces of India’s poor and rich. India’s Economic boom has benefited to ‘Indian haves.’ Space between Indian haves and Indian have-nots spreads in wild fire like situation. India’s dreaming to become world super power will only produce super global rich Indians while 250 million live in less than a dollar a day earning.

The need of the hour to look beyond the manger is that social, educational, economic and spiritual captivity – the captivity beyond the sin and sinful nature. There are hidden modern forms of slavery in Indian society, who needs to be liberated oppressed, not only from sin but also deliverance from India’s hidden slavery of caste, apartheid and discrimination.

The need of the hour to look beyond the manger is the raise of fascism in India, which has attacked Indian secularism. Saffron brigades with western money power have attacked Indian secularism. All the Indian Christians need to look beyond the manger to guard the God given secular state, provided by Indian Constitutions.

The Fascist forces have termed Christians, Islam and globalization as greatest enemies of country by singling out the Islam as terrorist, Christians as proselytizers, globalization as destroyers of Indian culture and tradition.

The Saffron fascists have been propagated Christians as proselytizers for the service of providing quality education, quality medical health care and quality teaching.

The need of the hour to look beyond the manger is the India’s 10 million manual scavengers whose birth rights have been assigned by the Brahmanical oppressors to clean human night shifts, which Dr. Joseph D’souza ‘“ International President of Dalit Freedom Network (www.dalitnetwork.org) called it modern form of slavery.

‘The cruel caste system has been a huge, never-ending problem for us as Indians. Our inability to eradicate caste completely even after the rise of prophets like Mahatma Phule and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar reveals our own blindness to one of the most dehumanizing systems the world has ever known,’  says Dr. D’souza.

Rev. Vidhya Sagar Dogar’s work on ‘Rural Christians of North West India’ reveals that 11% of Dalit Christians in Punjab still carries the human shits on their head every morning.

The need of the hour to look beyond the manger is the 59 years old constitutional discrimination to Dalits who chose their faith different from Hinduism. Dalits choosing Sikhism and Buddhism were punished for six years and later for forty years until Article 341 Para 3 was amended in 1956 and 1990.

The Dalits are still constitutionally punished for choosing Christianity and Islam by ceasing their names from SC status. The constitutional beneficiaries and the coverage of Prevention of SC/ST Atrocity Acts 1995 are denied until today to those Dalits who chose Christianity and Islam according to the freedom of choice and conscience provided by Indian Constitution.

The need of the hour to look beyond the manager is new proposal of redefining Minority Status bill pending in United Progressive Alliance Government’s agenda. Attempt to redefine minority status at state level will lose the minority status presently available to Christians in Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya. Sikhs in Punjab and Muslims in Jammu & Kashmir will also lose their minority status. What is the necessity of redefining minority status at state level? Or is it some form of attempt to harass minorities?

Look beyond the manger is the intimation to all Christians for this Christmas. The modern form of hidden slavery, the raise of fascism is greater threat to Indian secularism, the space between Indian haves and Indian have-nots, the physical, legal and media harassment on Christians, are few to look beyond the manger.

*The article is written by Madhu Chandra.

*Madhu Chandra is a social activist and research scholar based in New Delhi, works as Regional Secretary of All India Christian Council (www.indianchristians.in), Spokes Person of North East Support Centre & Helpline (www.nehelpline.net) and National Secretary of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations (www.scstconfederation.org).

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