UP’s Bible-reading Hindus tell VHP they won’t give up ritual

UP’s Bible-reading Hindus tell VHP they won’t give up ritual
Priyangi Agarwal | TNN | Updated: Dec 25, 2014, 10.08PM IST

BAREILLY : Amazing as it may seem, a group of 70 Hindus in Shahjahanpur, around 80 km from Bareilly, have been gathering at a former headman’s house every Sunday for the last four years now for a Bible-reading session. They say it has helped some of them tackle their personal problems.

VHP and Bajrang Dal members targeted these people last week, asking them not to convert to Christianity, thinking that they were on the verge of being proselytized, but former headman of Nayagaon Guladiya village Matadeen Verma, who is the leader of the group, turned them away. Verma told the Hindu activists that the whole group, each member and their families, was Hindu and that they had no intention of becoming Christians. He argued they were just Hindus who read the Bible on Sundays for a reason.

On Thursday , the day of Christmas, this peculiar group was once again asked to choose ‘Hanuman paath’ over the Bible. VHP and Bajrang Dal members held a meeting and encouraged villagers to read Hindu texts and boycott the Bible sessions. And once again they were turned away.

“We are doing nothing wrong,” said Verma. “There is no question of giving up the Bible. I will continue to organise the gathering at my house for Bible-reading sessions. None of us attended their (the VHP-Bajrang Dal) meeting because we do not believe in their ideology. We read holy books of both Hinduism and Christianity and follow the best things from both. Reading Bible doesn’t change our religion. We are Hindus and will remain Hindus.”

Every Sunday , the Hindu group — from Nayagaon Guladiya, Collectorganj, Koorabanda and adjoining villages — gathers at Verma’s place to read the Bible for around two hours. “We offer prayers to God, who helps us remove obstacles from our lives. Reading the holy book motivates us to move ahead in life,” said Verma.

Jalalabad circle officer Ashok Kumar, under whose jurisdiction these villages fall, said, “After reading the Bible and offering prayers, a few villagers had apparently recovered from illness some time ago. They developed faith in the holy book after that.”

VHP and Bajrang Dal have now decided to launch a ‘Saptahik (weekly) Milan Kendra’ at the Hanuman temple in Nayagaon Guladiya “to spread Hindu culture and traditions”. Anuj Kumar Singh, Braj state conveynor, Bajrang Dal, explained: “Every Tuesdays and Saturdays, we will gather the villagers to conduct Hanuman paath. It will be followed by singing of patriotic and religious songs. The weekly programme will end after Hanuman aarti and distribution of prasad.”

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