By Matters India Reporter
Bhubaneswar: Unidentified people demolished the Immaculate Conception Grotto in Gajapati district of Berhampur Diocese, Odisha, Eastern India.
“We do not have any clue so far who has done it. It was found that the head of Mother Mary was fully broken on March 4 at about 2 pm (local time) when people were attending the Holy Mass in the parish church as local bishop was on his pastoral visit,” Father Ajit Kumar Nayak, the parish priest of Immaculate Conception church at Aligonda, told Matters India.
Efforts are on to ascertain the people behind the incident, he added.
“No negative or aggressive reaction but only remorse and grief. I am also not encouraging people for any agitation,” Father Nayak said.
The grotto attracts thousands of Christians of the area for the December 8, the feast of Immaculate Conception.
“The statue of Blessed Vergin Mary in Aligonda grotto is found broken March 4. No police case is filed so far. Some details facts are being collected before a case can be filed on March 5. As of now, there is no clue on the perpetrator. Speculations and rumors are to be avoided in order to keep the tension within a limit,” Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur Diocese said.
Meanwhile, local Catholics have forgiven those who desecrated and destroyed the grotto.
The Immaculate Conception parish at Aligonda was established by Spanish Vincentian priests in 1958 and it is one of the major parishes in Berhampur diocese.
The population of Gajapati district is 577,817 as per census 2011. Hinduism constitutes 61.12% of Gajapati population and Christian form 37.98% of total population.
“I beseech your prayers for my flock in Aligonda parish. The head of Mother Mary’s statue is vandalized at the Grotto in Aligonda Parish. Grief and remorse have overshadowed. We are praying for the persons who have done it knowingly and unknowingly. We forgive them. God bless them. My request is: let us respect each other. Let us respect each other’s faith, said Father Ajit Kumar Nayak, the parish priest.