13-day prayer ahead of Kandhamal persecution anniversary launched

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By Purushottam Nayak

Bhubaneswar:  A 13 days of prayer ahead of the 13th anniversary of the Kandhamal anti-Christian violence of 2008 has been launched.

“We have begun to pray in all the Churches, institutions, parishes, villages and families of Odisha for safety and security, for justice and peace of survivors of anti-Christian violence of 2008 and all the faithful,  beginning August 10 to 23 for 13 days,” said Father Pradosh Chandra Nayak, vicar general of Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

Prayer is one of the most important things a Christian does. Sometimes we face devastating circumstances and feel we have nowhere to turn. It is at that point we should pray. Prayer is a dominant weapon because we are strengthened and assured of God’s powerful blessings, added Nayak.

“As the 13th anniversary of Kandhamal falls on Aug 23, here is an appeal to promote this 13-Day Prayer – be it in your house, community, parish, or congregation – so that each Christian is reminded of what happened in Kandhamal – remote jungle district of Odisha in 2008,” says Anto Akkara, a Bangalore-based journalist who has been associated for its cause.

Christians in Kandhamal and other parts of Odisha have started a 13-day prayer ahead of the 13th anniversary of the Kandhamal anti-Christian violence.

The poor but valiant Christians of Kandhamal carved out the finest moment of Christian witness in Indian history with dozens embracing martyrdom and thousands forsaking everything when they were asked to recant their faith in Christ under the death threat. The brutal anti-Christian persecution – that left nearly 100 dead, 300 churches destroyed, and 56,000 homeless – followed the mysterious murder of Swami Lakshmanananda on August 23, 2008, branded as a ‘Christian conspiracy’.

Even after 13 years, there is a stain on the Cross, rooted in the ‘Christian conspiracy’ theory. Seven innocent Christians including an illiterate dumb man had to spend 11 years behind bars for a crime they never committed – until the Supreme Court ordered bail for them in 2019. However, the appeal against their questionable conviction is dragging on in the Odisha High Court.

“Each Christian must pray for the acquittal of these living martyrs so that truth and justice prevail in Kandhamal,” says Akkara.

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