Hindus join Christmas celebrations in troubled Kandhamal

December 26th, 2008 - 1:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Dec 26 (IANS) Christmas was celebrated with joy and gaiety in the Kandhamal district of Orissa, which witnessed communal violence recently, as Hindus joined Christians in the festivities.In the Christian dominated Brahmanigaon village, about 300 km from here, a large number of Hindus joined their Christian brethren in a candle-lit procession and cake cutting ceremony to mark the celebrations.

“Several Hindus joined Christians in the celebration in Brahmanigaon area,” district collector Krishan Kumar told IANS by telephone.

“We greeted our Christian brothers and joined them in mass prayers on the occasion,” said Rama Chandra Das, a Hindu villager from the area.

“We are overwhelmed by the gesture of our Hindu brothers who participated in the celebration with us,” said a pastor.

Similar scenes were witnessed in the communally sensitive Daringibari area, where members of both the communities celebrated Christmas. They embraced one another after cutting cakes.

Earlier this year, communal violence originated in Brahmanigaon after an attack on senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Laxmananand Saraswati and later spread to the entire district after his murder Aug 23.

The violence led to the killing of at least 38 people and thousands of people were forced to flee their homes after they were attacked by rampaging mobs. About 8,000 people are still living in government-run relief camps.

Extremist Hindu groups blamed Christians for Saraswatri’s murder, a charge repeatedly denied by Christian organisations.

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