New reports on the peaceful Shabari Kumbh Hindu Festival are further convincing Christians of its anti-conversion tactics and attempts to reconvert tribal believers to Hinduism.
International Christian Concern, a Washington, D.C.-based human rights group, recently received information that the festival in Dangs district, Gujarat, included a massive anti-conversion poster campaign along with other festival activities earlier this month. According to ICC, the National Volunteer Corps (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), a radical Hindu group that hosted the festival, displayed at least two dozen anti-conversion posters in an exhibition called "The New Vision for India."
The posters featured excerpts of newsletters of Christian missions in India and abroad along with a series linking the Church with terrorist and separatist groups in northeast India. Titles and statements attached to the posters included "Church-sponsored terrorist groups in Northeast India," "Terrorism is the true face of Christianity," "Education in a missionary school is dangerous," and "Christian conversion is a hidden war against Hinduism."
Christians all over the world had feared a violent eruption against fellow believers in India as hundreds of thousands of activists were to attend the Hindu festival. In December 1998, the thousands of Hindu extremists that rallied shouted anti-Christian slogans and attacked Christian places of worship and other buildings owned by or related to Christians and Muslims.
Prayers were unceasingly given ahead of the most recent festival which ended peacefully.
Despite there having been no direct violent attacks, churchgoers remain concerned over the speeches and campaigns that spoke against Christian conversions and called for reconversions to Hinduism.
One poster quoted Mahatma Gandhi saying, "If I had the right to legislate, I would abolish conversions. I would welcome only those foreigners who come for social service. It is true that because of missionaries, the culture and lifestyle of Hindu families change."
Under that, a statement in the footer read: "Conversion is the second name of violence."
"The festival, organized in the remote, tribal-dominant district, was an attempt to 'reconvert' tribal Christians to Hinduism by making them aware of the 'Christian conspiracy of conversions,'" read a statement by the ICC. "Although no direct attempt of re-conversion was reported during the festival, the RSS left no stone unturned in preparing the ground for re-conversions in the future."
Amid fears and concerns, Hopegivers International on Friday began a 10-day prayer campaign a global call made by the organization's president, Dr. Samuel Thomas for believers around the world to join to pray for peace and religious freedom in India.