Odisha Church commemorates Arul doss’ martyrdom
By Purushottam Nayak
Mayurbhanj: The Catholic Church in Odisha has observed the 18th anniversary of the martyrdom of Father Arul Doss.
Father Doss, a priest of Balasore diocese, was killed by Hindu fundamentalists on September 2, 1999, in an interior village parish in Mayurbhanj district of the eastern Indian state.
More than 2,500 people, along with 27 priests and some 50 nuns from Balasore and neighboring dioceses assembled to pay homage to the martyr at Jambani village that comes under Bagdapha parish.
Father Doss “was a lover of poor Ho people. Through his God is showering goodness and blessings on the people of Odisha” said Father Efrem Lakra, who led the memorial Mass.
FatherAjay Shobhasundar of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese, in his homily, said the slain priest loved priest sacrifice all his comfort and pleasure for the poor. “He was ready to undergo any difficulty, pain and suffering to lead people to truth, goodness, light and knowledge,” he added.
Father Jadu Marandi, vicar general of Balasore diocese, commended the large gathering in an inaccessible village and said the martyred priest continues to “inspire and motivate us to live a better life” embracing everyone without discriminating on the basis of caste, creed or color in a hostile world. “People are growing in faith despite persecution,” he claimed.
The memorial programs also included recitation of rosary and a procession. The Mass was celebrated at 10:30 am on September 2.
“Jambani has become a pilgrimage center for entire Odisha,” says local parish priest Father Daso Murmu. “Every year hundreds of people come to pay homage to Father Arul Doss. They light the candles and burn incense to their beloved priest,” the Santal tribal priest told Matters India.
The slain priest worked mainly among the Ho tribal people. People loved him since he had identified with him totally in terms of customs, tradition and culture.”
His work among the tribal people infuriated radical Hindus. His killers were led by Dara Singh, who had torching to death Australian Protestant missionary Graham Stuart Staines and his two minor sons on January 23, 1999, inside a vehicle parked outside a forest mission center in Mayurbhanj district.
Singh is now serving life term in a central prison in Odisha.
He and accomplices used bows and arrows to kill Father Doss, who was 35 at the time of assassination.
He was them the parish priest of Anandpur parish with Jambani as a mission station. He had one there to hold Mass for some 15 Ho tribal families during a harvest festival.
The assailants entered Jambani wearing cloth masks and pretending to watch the tribals as they sang and danced to celebrate the feast.
Meanwhile the priest and catechist Katesingh Khuntia slept in a hut used for the Mass. The disguised men entered the hut after 1 a.m. and first attacked the catechist who fell unconscious.
The commotion woke up Father Doss, who ran out of the hut, but the intruders shot him with arrows that pierced his chest and killed him on the spot.
The assailants then attacked the villagers and escaped in the dark, witnesses had said.