A Catholic priest, Father Anthony Fernandes, converted to Hinduism here on Tuesday.
The Jesuit priest was converted at a public ceremony at Ram Krishna Temple in the ancient Hindu
"Today is a day of great joy for me, as I am no more attached to
any church; from today, Fr Anthony is no more and Shankar Dev has taken birth," Anthony told rediff.com just after Hindu priests formally declared him as a member of the community.
The shuddhikaran (purification) of Fr Fernandes was followed by mundan (ceremonial headshaving) carried out under the auspices of the Hindu Sanskar Kendra, a religious body of priests - amid chanting of Vedic hymns and sacred Sanskrit couplets, after which he was given the name Shankar Dev.
After a Dasvidh Snan (holy bath), Fernandes was draped in a saffron robe with sandalwood paste on his forehead.
"The change is not a publicity stunt nor just a religious transformation for me. I have gone for this change only to rid the corrupt society I had been living in all these years," remarked the middle-aged priest.
"It is out of my personal experience that I can tell the wrong deeds of Indian missionaries where I spent three decades; they have created a situation where one can easily raise questions about their working; those sitting on high positions whom people consider as spiritual leaders, in fact play a dubious role," said the former father, who served in the Christian missions of Goa and Gujarat since childhood.
"For 400 years our family has served as true Catholics and I too grew up in Majorda (Goa), where 80 per cent
people are Christians; after education at St Xavier's, Ahmedabad, I opted to serve as a priest," he pointed out.
He said, "What I have been watching since the early 70s is a big fraud being played with Christianity itself," adding, "Christianity is being misused by some in India and people like the bishops are the most corrupt. In the name of minorities, they are grabbing donations for themselves; only a deep probe can expose the real faces behind the spotless white robes," remarked Fernandes.
However, it was not the end of the rough ride for Fernandes, who now fears the wrath of his four brothers, who are still staunch Christians. "They may oppose me, but time will certainly tell them what I did was right; after all, I have adopted a religion that was not only the most ancient and practiced by our own ancestors, but also a culture in itself," he added.
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