Police don’t heed complaint over Hindu ceremony held at Catholic church

A pooja, a major Hindu ceremony of devotional homage to a god, was held on the grounds of the Catholic Church in Sancoale, Goa. In his complaint, the parish priest cites the penal code, which bans deliberate and harmful acts meant to insult the religious feelings of a group.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A Pooja was celebrated on the grounds of a Catholic Church in Sancoale, Goa, where the frontispiece of the ancient church still exists. The religious ceremony is a devotional homage to a Hindu deity.

“In front of the frontispiece of the old church, a group of about 25 people began performing a Hindu pooja at 4 pm today. Behind it, there is a chapel where Sunday masses are celebrated,” the parish priest, Fr Luis Alvares, told AsiaNews.

“This is a heritage site and a religious place. I was present with my parishioners,” the clergyman explained. “We called the police, who asked them (the Hindu devotees) to move to another place for the pooja. We filed a complaint with the police.”

“This is the place and time of year when the novenas and the feast of St Joseph Vaz are celebrated. Currently, novenas are being held in preparation for the feast day of St Joseph Vaz. What is more, walking pilgrimages from Goa end here, at the old Church.

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the faithful came from all over India and Sri Lanka to visit this church during the Novenas.”

“Today, feast of the Epiphany, we celebrated the prayer service at 6.30 pm, by candlelight, praying for peace,” Fr Luis Alvares told AsiaNews. “Almost 2,000 people were present (all with masks and socially distanced).”

“The Pooja was held last Wednesday, but police have not yet registered our complaint.”