BJP leader wants church topic closed
Alappuzha: BJP’s intellectual cell convener T G Mohandas, who tweeted on August 22 that the St Andrew’s Basilica in Arthunkal was originally a Shiva temple, said that it would be better if the topic was dropped from public discussions.
He had earlier asked Hindus, in his tweet, to reclaim the church that was built by Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century. “The more we discuss, greater the damage.
Though church authorities and I looked at it in a mature way, some politicians and vested interest groups tried to spark a controversy using my tweets. So I don’t want to go ahead with it,” he said.
Alappuzha police chief S Surendran said a case was charged against Mohandas for promoting enmity on religious grounds (IPC 153A).”A case was registered on Aug 25 based on the complaint filed by AIYF Alappuzha secretary TT Jismon. We have collected scientific evidence with the help of cyber cell. We will collect his statement soon,” he said.
Historian KKN Kurup said that there was a possibility that Mohandas could be right.
“If we peruse the history of temples and religion, we can understand it.During my studies, I found that when a community adopted a new religion, they changed their places of worship. In 1970, the current Ganapathivattam temple in Sultan Bathery was once the worship place of Jains. In Pulpally, a Jain worship place later became the Bhagavathy temple. So I am not ready to deny his statements,” he said.
Meanwhile, a senior member of the church’s administration wing refuted Mohandas’s statements by saying that he lacked documents to prove his claim.Meanwhile, Mohandas said that he had not deleted his tweets as they were facts.
“The book `Arthunkal Nootandukaliloode’ even agreed that there was a Bhagavathy temple in the place where the church stands. I am not sure was it a Bhagavathy or Siva temple,” he said.
Rector Fr Christopher M Arthasseril felt that the church was an example of religious harmony. “We welcome hundreds of Ayyappa pilgrims during Mandala season. Pilgrims place their `mala’ and pay their respect before Saint Sebastian,” he said.
Legends claim that the second priest of the church, Fr Giacomo Fenicio, was a friend of Ayyappa and pilgrim visits commemorates the bond they shared, The Times of India reported.
People believed that Fr Fenicio could heal diseases.He spent 33 years here in two spells and installed a statue of St Sebastian that was brought from Italy in 1647.He was interested in Hindu culture, rituals, and martial arts.
“He learned martial arts under the guru of Cheerappanchira family at Muhamma. It is said that Ayyappa too was a student then and that he had visited the church with Fr Fenicio. He had penned a book on his interest in Latin,” said Nelson KG, a member of the church’s administration wing.