Organisers of an event where a Chennai-based Pastor is expected to address a Christian gathering has come under pressure from local Hindu groups like the VHP, forcing representatives from a local Church to clarify that the event scheduled to be held on Thursday and Friday is not meant for “religious conversions”. The representatives said the event will be just a gathering of the local Christian community keen to offer prayers including for those killed in the “Kerala floods.”
The event, titled “Barso — An encounter with the Holy Spirit”, is slated to be held at the Shree Muktajeevan Auditorium located in Maninagar, which has a sizeable Christian population. “We made the bookings for the event about two months ago. But yesterday, after some local Hindu groups protested outside the venue, we were called by the owners of the auditorium asking about the details about the event,” said Reverend Munna Prasad Gupta of the Jesus Mission Church, which is organising the event.
He said the event was not meant for any religious conversions. “We had to assure them that the event was not meant for any religious conversions and was only meant for prayers for the local Christian community. This will also include prayers for all those who perished in the Kerala floods,” Gupta said.
According to the organisers, over 500 people are expected to attend the event where Pastor Alwin Thomas is scheduled to address the gathering. “We have clarified to the owners of the auditorium and we are going ahead with the event,” Gupta added.
When contacted, Swami Bhagvatpriyadas, belonging to Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan that owns the auditorium, told The Indian Express, “The representatives of VHP and Hindu Manch had come to complain about the event saying that they were afraid that religious conversions would take place at the ‘Christian event’. But I told them that Swaminarayan Bhagwan has asked us to keep a broad mind as we are all humans first. I have assured them that no religious conversions will take place at the event.”
However, Gujarat VHP chief Ashok Raval denied being part of the protest. When asked about the event, Raval said, “We are not against anyone holding events in their own campuses. We only request everyone not to get indulged into criticising Hindus temples, its gods and sants. Otherwise, people are free to express themselves.”