In Gujarat’s Tapi, an old Hindu temple was destroyed, and a church was built there in its place. Additionally, Hindus are not permitted to do prayers. The church, Mariam Mata’s Temple, was constructed by neighborhood Christians in the village of Songarh Taluka, where the temple was situated. On October 2, when some Hindus arrived at the location to pray at the temple, they made the discovery.
According to a report by Opindia, local Hindus used to regularly pray at the Gidhmadi Aya Dungar Mata temple in the Nana Bandarpada village of the Songarh taluka in the Tapi region of Gujarat. On top of the hill was where the temple. The movement of people on this hill, however, progressively decreased over time as a result of the fast-expanding Christian population in the region, and the Christian missionaries then destroyed the temple and built their house of worship here, naming it Mariam Mata’s Temple.
During the Navratri celebration, Hindus traveled to the old sacred spot to make prayers. At the same moment, a group of Christians arrived and started making a commotion by preventing Hindus from climbing the hill. Police arrived at the scene after the commotion.
A local stated, “We had gone to worship at the Mataji festival, but the local Christians refused to let us go upstairs and argued that there was no place above.” He added that a lot of stones, sticks and other such materials had been brought by the Christians, who had arrived well-prepared and equipped. The Christians also attempted to break the plate carrying food offerings for the Devi in addition to slapping the Hindu priest. The police were able to control the situation.
Hindus have always worshiped at the temple, but rising conversion rates have resulted in an increase in the Christian population. Hindus were unable to freely travel to the hill as a result. According to a local, who was quoted by OpIndia, the village is now 98% Christian. Hindus have been unable to speak up because they are a minority. Furthermore, Christians are now holding crucial positions like the sarpanch.
A motion to renovate the temple was approved, but a church was built in its place. According to the OpIndia report, “In 2019, the Bandarpada gram panchayat of Songarh taluka in the Tapi district unanimously passed a resolution noting that the Gidhamadi Aya Dungar Mataji temple had been revered for many years and needed to be renovated due to heavy devotee traffic. No reference to a Christian church or any other house of worship was made.”
Local Hindus claimed that despite the panchayat passing a resolution in support of the Gidhamadi Mataji temple, it actually used the grant it was given to construct the church. The Devi’s temple was destroyed, and nearby, its crumbling remains were discovered. Hindu organizations have since called for the deity and the temple to be restored. Leaders of the community declared that they would defend their rights and present a request to the collector in this regard in the coming days.
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