A statue of the Virgin Mary depicted as a Sarna tribeswoman has caused religious hard-liners in the Sarna tribe to threaten Christian converts living within and around the Indian tribal group. In recent years, fundamentalist religious movements have spread across India leading to many new incidents of Christian persecution. Among the worse incident was the 2008 anti-Christian riots that swept across India’s northeastern state of Orissa lead by Hindu extremists. Christians recently marked the 5th anniversary of the violence last Sunday (August 25).
8/27/2013 India (Telegraph) – Police are now guarding the statue after leaders of the Sarna tribe issued a deadline for their ultimatum last Sunday.
The statue, in Singpur, Jharkhand, shows the Virgin Mary as an Indian woman wearing a red and white sari, earings, bangles and her hair in a ponytail.
She is holding the infant Jesus in a yellow sling tied around her shoulder like a traditional Sarna woman.
Sarna leaders said the depiction was a sinister attempt to confuse local people into believing she was a tribal woman in the hope that they would trade their belief in ‘Mother Nature’ for faith in ‘Mother Mary.’ The threat comes amid rising tensions in the area over missionary activity and fears among tribal leaders that growing numbers are converting to Christianity.
Evangelical Christians have suffered violent attacks in India from Hindu fundamentalists and tribal traditionalists.