Tag Archives: Christian

What is Ash Wednesday?




BT.V. Antony Raj


Ash Wednesday Service in Westminster Cathedral

Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales)


According to the Christian canonical gospels, Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days in the desert, where he encountered the temptations by Satan. So, the solemn religious observance of Lent originated as a mirroring this event. Hence, Christians fast 40 days as preparation for the Easter Sunday, the day of the resurrection of Christ. In Latin, Lent is referred to by the term Quadragesima (meaning “fortieth”), in reference to the fortieth day before Easter.

Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting. In Western Christianity, it marks the start of the 40-day period of fasting, the first day of the season of Lent.


An 1881 Polish painting of a priest sprinkling ashes on the heads of worshippers by Julian Fałat (1853 - 1929).
An 1881 Polish painting of a priest sprinkling ashes on the heads of worshippers by Julian Fałat (1853 – 1929).


Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of blessing the ashes made from palm branches that were blessed on Palm Sunday of the previous year, and placing them ceremonially on the heads of the participants. The Ash is either sprinkled over their heads or more often  a visible cross is marked on their foreheads to the accompaniment of the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” based on Genesis 3:19

By the sweat of your brow
you shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.


Father Ken Simpson burns palms Tuesday as students from St. Clement School in Chicago look on. (CNS/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World) (Custom)
Father Ken Simpson burns palms Tuesday as students from St. Clement School in Chicago look on. (CNS/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World) (Custom)


In Western Christianity, during Lent, every Sunday is regarded as a feast day to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus  Christ on a Sunday, and so fasting is considered inappropriate on that day. And so, Christians fast from Monday to Saturday (6 days) for 6 weeks and from Wednesday to Saturday (4 days) in the preceding week, thus making up the number of 40 days.

Many Western Christians, including Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Anglicans, and Presbyterians observe Ash Wednesday. However, not all Catholics observe Ash Wednesday. Eastern Catholic Churches, do not count Holy Week as part of Lent, and they begin the penitential season on Monday before Ash Wednesday called the Clean Monday. Catholics following the Ambrosian Rite begin it on the First Sunday in Lent.

Throughout the Latin Church, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and in the Maronite Catholic Church, the Ashes are blessed and ceremonially distributed at the start of Lent. In the Catholic Ambrosian Rite, this is done at the end of Sunday Mass or on the following day.

Here are readings in the Churches for Ash Wednesday. It  is the continuation of the sermon on the mount. Jesus warns against doing good in order to be seen and gives three examples. In each, the conduct of the hypocrites is contrasted with that demanded of the disciples.

Teaching about Alms-giving

[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.

When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

–  (Mathew 6: 1-4)


Teaching about Prayer

When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.

Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test,
but deliver us from the evil one.

If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

– Matthew 6:5–15


Teaching about Fasting

When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.

– (Matthew 6:16-18)



Hoodwinking the Innocent in the Name of Jesus and The Holy Spirit



By T.V. Antony Raj


An innocent Congo boy

In the New Testament in Mark 10:13-16 we read:

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.

When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Then he embraced the children and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo


In the Democratic Republic of the Congo self-styled pastors hoodwink ignorant rural folk using the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. These criminals who call themselves “pastors” resort to so-called “exorcism” of infants and children to fatten themselves by levying a high fee equal to US$50 or more to drive out the evil spirits in the innocent children. The government officials in Congo do not bother to intervene and arrest these extortionists because they receive their kickbacks under the table.

In India too, there are in every nook and corner, many crooked Christian pastors such as these, who inveigle ignorant people to their churches and fleece them in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

These felons should be stripped bare and molten lead should be poured into their blasphemous mouths for Exodus 20:7 says:

You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.




The most overly used, yet most understood word in the Christian language…hypocrite


Pastor Mike



..By Pastor Mike






If you walked down the street of the a busy city and asked random people about Christians what do you think they would say? I would love to say that those people would have nothing but good things to say, but sadly that is not true. Unfortunately, the word that would be most commonly used probably wouldn’t be loving, nice, compassionate or forgiving. Unfortunately, the word probably most often used to describe a Christian has been a hypocrite. That’s not to say that I agree with that, but that’s what a lot of people would say. So naturally I thought we should check out what the Bible has to say about hypocrites and hypocrisy.

Sometimes when looking up a certain topic in the Bible you can’t find a place where the Bible specifically talks about it and you have just have to put two and two together. Hypocrisy or hypocrites is not one of those topics. The Bible talks about hypocrites a lot and nobody talks about hypocrites in the Bible more often than Jesus himself.

Jesus obviously frowned upon hypocrisy, but what exactly is hypocrisy? There are a few different ways of being a hypocrite and each is shown in the Bible. The first type of hypocrisy can be found in Matthew chapter 6. In verse 2 Jesus says,

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

Jesus goes on to say,

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their rewards in full.

This is probably not the most common type of hypocrisy, although you may know someone like the people described in these verses. This type of a hypocrite is somebody that actually does something good, but does them for the wrong reasons. It’s not good enough to just pray to God or give to the needy, you must also have a good reason for it. A good Christian will pray because he wants to have a closer relationship with God or give to the needy out of compassion, but a hypocrite will do these things for their own glory. A hypocrite will make sure that other Christians see them so they can brag about how good a Christian they are.

Another type of hypocrite can be found in Matthew chapter 7. Verse 5 says,

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This example of a hypocrite is probably the most common example of a hypocrite. Mainly because this type of hypocrisy isn’t really about being a Christian. This type of hypocrisy can be seen in anybody. Basically what this verse is talking about is that person A is telling person B about a flaw in them when person A is a hypocrite because they also have the same flaw. It basically would be like Lex Luthor walk up to Superman and telling him he should be nicer to people.

Like I said, this type of hypocrisy can be found in anybody, not just Christians, but how should a Christian act? A good Christian would first take a look at themselves and see if they have this flaw before calling somebody else out on it. If they also have that flaw, then they should take care of it before they tell anybody else what to do. That is what Jesus is talking about when he says to remove the plank from your own eye.

If you’re not being a hypocrite there is nothing wrong with confronting somebody with a problem they have but just like the hypocrites in the first example, you shouldn’t do this in public. Talk to the person in private.

Both of these are examples of hypocrites and you probably know people like them, but when people call Christians hypocrites they are usually referring to the third example. 1 John 2:4 tells us about this type of Christian:

“Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

It’s pretty simple. This type of hypocrite is the type of person that claims they are a Christian, but then doesn’t act like it. They might attend church on Sundays, even though the night before they were out doing sinful things. The Bible is very straightforward, these people are liars. You probably don’t need the Bible to tell you that, it’s pretty clear. In God’s eyes people that claim to be Christians but don’t act like it aren’t “Christian hypocrites”, they’re just non-Christians. They were never Christians to begin with.

Of course, God isn’t saying, “if you ever break one single rule, then that’s it, you’re a liar.” It just means if you really are a Christian then you will make a genuine attempt to follow all of his commandments. We aren’t perfect. Sometimes we’ll make a mistake and unfortunately when we make that mistake, a non-Christian will probably be there to call us a hypocrite because they love pointing them out. But as long as you keep on trying to follow God’s commandments, then you aren’t a hypocrite, you’re just human.

Are you a Christian Hypocrite


Reposted from PASTOR MIKE SAYS




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“Premarital Sex Anyone?” by Nirav Karani

Nirav Karani

By Nirav Karani

It is funny how people talk about wanting to sleep with just one person in their whole life and how they want to do this sacrosanct act with that special person only. Yes, it sounds very beautiful to say and all that, but I wonder exactly how much love is there between a couple having sex on their wedding night having met about four and a half times before that (Sitting silently amongst ten family members of either side doesn’t really count, but I’m giving it a half). So if you’re pervert enough to do it on the first opportunity once you’ve been ‘certified’ by the society, why the hypocrisy? Of course, it isn’t a social obligation to fornicate once you’re married, is it? Maybe there is a no-hymen clause in one of the post marriage rituals. I don’t know.

How about a couple that have been going around for say, more than a year? Chances that they are in love, that they know each other a little better, that the act – if they do it – will be more meaningful, are at least a tad more, don’t you think?

Maybe age is a factor, you might say. College students are just naïve; they don’t have an inkling what real love is really about. My grandmother’s brother was married before his 15th birthday. Not much more than a year later, he was pacing down the hospital corridor before he got the good news and started jumping with joy, hugging everyone in sight. Ha! Quite a spectacle it is to imagine that! Of course, people used to get married that early those days and that was the norm. Now people want to study and earn and be ‘settled’ before take the vows. Unfortunately, their hormones are not quite attuned with the new arrangement.

Having said all this, I must mention that I’m not trying to glorify sex at all. Not for one moment. It’s a beautiful act, no doubt. But for all those who claim that it is our very basic instinct, I am afraid there is a wake-up call lurking somewhere. Lust is indeed one of the lower ways in which our energy manifests itself. After all, one can fuck only so many times. And let’s face it, it cannot be a source of lasting happiness.

And lest you think this is some sort of philosophical shit, believe me, I am speaking from experience. Of course, my virginity variable is firmly set to one and there are no indications that that is going to change anytime soon. Yes, poor me! (Programming does get into your head, doesn’t it? Besides, I think a part of me thinks it’s almost fashionable to exhibit geekiness. You think?) But just because I haven’t played the real match, it doesn’t mean that I don’t do net practice either. And honestly, my experiences in meditation have been much more gratifying.

Anyway, I still question the hype, and a sense of mystery, even guilt, and most of all, the hypocrisy surrounding – to quote Sheldon Cooper – ‘the messy, unsanitary act that involves loud and unnecessary appeals to the deity’.

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The Economics of Hate

September 5, 2012

Mehreen Zahra-Malik.


Predictably, it began much before little Rimsha was accused of the incomprehensible – much before torn little pieces of religious paraphernalia were bandied about and their desecration decried.

Venal mullahs, jilted neighbours, greedy influentials – the usual cast of characters that surround most sordid tales of blasphemy are, unsurprisingly, on the set of the Mehrabad miasma also.

But how did a locality that has been home to Christians for over two decades, and where Muslims helped them build a church less than a year ago, turn an unlettered child into a blasphemer and allow her to be banished to solitary confinement for weeks? In one of the few slums in Islamabad where Muslims and Christians have always lived side by side, what compelled a prayer leader to scheme to “get rid of the Christians?”

Visits to Mehrabad reveal that the locality has been long scarred by mounting schisms – a confluence of personal, economic and political factors – that made Rimsha’s fate almost inevitable.

The most defining division affecting the Rimsha case is between the area’s landed Maliks and its clerics – a schism that predates the present controversy.

Malik Amjad’s family, the owners of Rimsha’s home, and other Maliks of the area, rent hundreds of run-down shacks to various Christian families. When the Christians first bolted from Mehrabad fearing violence after Rimsha was arrested, economic interests, above all, compelled the Muslim landlords to go after the fleeing Christian community and lure them back. For someone like Amjad, who makes about Rs300,000 a month just from rent, an exodus would spell nothing short of disaster. Amjad also runs what he calls a ‘servant provision agency’ through which he gets his Christian tenants work in Muslim homes and offices for a small commission. Ever since August 16, his phones have never stopped ringing, anxious clients calling to complain that their servants haven’t shown up to work.

In fact, so disturbed was Amjad by the idea of a mass Christian exodus that he brought up during the Friday sermon on August 24 a controversial case from last year when an Muslim boy “behaved inappropriately” with a younger Christian boy. “I’m asking them why, when that happened, we didn’t ask the whole Muslim community to leave for the unfortunate actions of one person,” Amjad said, the stress lines on his forehead deepening.

There’s yet another reason the Muslim landlords are even willing to stand up against the clerics to ‘protect’ their Christian lodgers: the downtrodden community makes for docile tenants. They’re quiet, they don’t complain, they do what they’re told. In fact, they even complied when asked not to hold church services except on Sundays. “Imagine if they were replaced by Pathan tenants. Rooz ka aazaab bun jaye ga (That would be everyday punishment),” Amjad sniggered.

But if the Muslim Maliks have spoken up for the Christians and against the clergy for reasons of economics, what compelled local prayer leader Khalid Chishti to do the opposite: intensify his efforts to expel the minority community from the area?

The clergy in Mehrabad, just like in other localities and religions, have much the same economic interests as their non-ecclesiastical counterparts. As producers of spiritual goods – as performers of marriage ceremonies, as whisperers of azaan in the ears of infants, as ministers of last rites, as preachers of sermons, and as expounders not only of theology but also of society’s basic political and legal doctrines – the clergy always needs constituents.

Imagine, then, the frustration of an Imam Chishti stuck in a predominantly Christian neighbourhood; imagine his prospects if the infidels could be expelled and replaced by a larger number of Muslims to do his bidding, to donate to his mosque, to help expand it, to consider him a spiritual leader?

So when all else failed – when complaints about Christians disrupting the Muslims’ prayers by playing music didn’t work and the committee formed to expel the community from the area didn’t find much support on the ground – what was Imam Chishti to do?

Plant burnt pages of the Quran in the bag of an unlettered, unsuspecting Christian child and cry ‘Islam in danger?’

Given that many of Mehrabad’s residents are migrants from Gojra, and have relatives there, no one was surprised when Christian families fled their homes the very night the accusations against Rimsha surfaced. Too close are Mehrabad’s Christians to the memory of the 2009 Gojra riots when a mere rumour of blasphemy led to over 40 Christian houses burnt and seven dead. Imam Chishti couldn’t have found better victims of a blasphemy-related fear campaign.

These starkest of juxtapositions – of Christian against Muslim, of the landed against the clergy, of the landed Muslim against the non-landed Muslim willing to side with the mullahs to break the power of the landed – only highlight in their desolate extremity what is commonplace everywhere: that economics and power, more than religious sentiment, may be behind campaigns of death and hate. In many ways, Mehrabad may just be microcosm of modern inequality, with all the pluses and injustices it bestows on those on different sides of the divide.

Two weeks ago, when Malik Amjad told me Chishti may have fabricated the entire case against Rimsha, I urged him to go on record with the information. But he said it was not yet time: “Let the issue be handled quietly. It will be better for everybody.”

Today, the Imam is in police custody for very same charge he levelled on Rimsha: blasphemy.

Hammad, Amjad’s nephew and the original complaint and accuser, has disappeared. And there’s another story there.

Some residents claim Rimsha’s older sister was proposed to by a neighbour – a Muslim. She turned him down. Weeks later, Rimsha was arrested for burning the holy pages.

Was Hammad that jilted neighbour? Some neighbours think so. Others say it may be the boy who runs the shop opposite Rimsha’s house, ‘Sharjeel CD and Video Point.’ As each day in the Rimsha saga brings new information and new scandal, perhaps this twist too will be confirmed in the days to come. We may also get clearer answers to why senior Muslim clerics like Tahir Ashrafi have spoken up for Rimsha. Some suggest Ashrafi has a child with Down’s Syndrome – a condition that has become attached to Rimsha’s very name.

For now, the nightmarish thought that Rimsha may be killed in prison is never far.

(From The News, Pakistan)

© 2012, Mehreen Zahra-Malik. This article may not be reproduced in any form without providing an active attribution link/ reference to The Pakistan Forum. All attribution links within the article must also be retained.

The author Mehreen Zahra-Malik Mehreen Zahra-Malik is assistant editor, The News International. She may be reached at mehreen.tft@gmail.com

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Imam Arrested in Pakistan for Implicating Christian Girl in Blasphemy Case


Myself By T.V. Antony Raj .


A young Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy has to wait until Monday, September 3, 2012, to know whether she will be given bail, after a judge adjourned her case on Saturday, September 1, 2012. The case has focused attention on Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws that can result in prison or even death for insulting Islam. Human rights activists have long criticized the laws that help to persecute non-Muslims and settle personal scores.

On September 2, the arrest of an Imam named Khalid Chishti, in Islamabad, provided a new twist to the blasphemy case involving Rimsha Masih, a minor Christian girl.

The Imam, prayer leader of the Jamia Aminia mosque in the Mehria Jaffar neighborhood of Islamabad, was arrested on Saturday night after a person named Hafiz Muhammad Zubair, recorded a statement against the cleric before a magistrate. Zubair testified that he saw the cleric stuffing pages of the Quran in the bag of the Christian girl and implicated her under the contentious blasphemy law.

Police arrested Chishti based on this statement and produced him before a judicial magistrate, and then remanded in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for 14 days.

Blasphemy accused cleric Imam Khalid Chishti
Blasphemy accused cleric Imam Khalid Chishti

Earlier, Zubair told the media that the incident took place while he and some other men were in ‘aitekaf‘ (seclusion) in the mosque during the holy Islāmic month of Ramzan. He said, “The bag brought to the mosque, had nothing in it. When he (Chishti) was given the bag, he went inside the mosque and pulled out two or three pages and added them to the bag. I told him what he was doing was wrong. He told me that it was evidence against the Christians, and a way to get them removed from the area.”

Zubair said that Malik Hammad, a local, handed the bag with the pages of the Quran over to the police. On August 16, when an angry mob surrounded the police station and demanded that action be taken against the Christian girl the police arrested Rimsha. She is being held at the high-security Adiala Jail, and her judicial remand extended by 14 days last week.Malik Hammad, ourt to take suo motu notice of the incident and take action against those who had really desecrated the Quran. He blamed the Christian girl for the incident.

An official medical board concluded that Rimsha was 14 years of age, and her mental development did not correspond to her age. Last week, Rao Abdul Raheem, the lawyer of Rimsha’s accuser, challenged the findings.

Khalid Chishti in a television interview last week accepted that he had, during a recent sermon, called for the eviction of all Christians from the neighbourhood if they did not stop their prayer services because “Pakistan is an Islāmic country given by Allah.”

The new evidence against the cleric could help defuse the blasphemy case against the Christian girl.


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“Entertainment for the Saints”

If the affluence of America impressed me, the affluence of Christians impressed me even more. The United States has about 5,000 Christian book and gift stores,1 carrying varieties of products beyond my ability to imagine—and many secular stores also carry religious books. All this while 4,845 of the world’s 6,912 languages are still without a single portion of the Bible published in their own language! In his book My Billion Bible Dream, Rochunga Pudaite says, “Eighty-five percent of all Bibles printed today are in English for the nine percent of the world who read English. Eighty percent of the world’s people have never owned a Bible while Americans have an average of four in every household.”

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A True Hero by Brother Douglas

ஒரு நிஜக் கதாநாயகன்.By டக்ளஸ் அண்ணா

மாரிசெல்வம் – சோதனைகளை சாதனையாக்கிய ஏழை மாணவன்…கண்ணீர்துளிகளை மலர்கொத்துகளாக மாற்றிய சிறுவன்…

சில நாட்களுக்கு முன் தமிழகத்தில் பள்ளி இறுதி வகுப்புத் தேர்வு (SSLC) முடிவுகள் பரபரப்பாக வெளியாகிக்கொண்டிருந்த நேரம். தேர்வு எழுதிய மாணவர்கள் எல்லாம் தங்களது மதிப்பெண்களை அறிந்துகொள்ள இணையத்தைப் பார்த்துக் கொண்டிருந்த போது தன் தாயார் சண்முகத்துடன் முதல் நாள் மூட்டிவைத்த கரிமூட்டதில் இருந்து கரி அள்ளிக் கொண்டிருந்தான் மாரி. அவனும் இந்த முறை SSLC தேர்வு எழுதியவன்தான். ஆனால் முடிவுகளைத் தெரிந்துகொள்ள அவன் எந்த முயற்சியும் எடுக்கவில்லை.

“மாரி… யாரோ உன்னத் தேடி வந்திருக்காங்க…” என்று அவனுடைய மூன்றாவது அக்கா பானுப்ரியா சொல்ல, அள்ளிப் போட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்த கரியை அப்படியே வைத்துவிட்டு வந்தவனை, அவனுடைய பள்ளி நண்பர்கள் வாரி அணைத்துத் தூக்கிக்கொண்டனர்.

“மாரி! நீ 490 மார்க் எடுத்திருக்கடா! District First டா…” என்று கூறி அவனைத் தூக்கிக் கொண்டாடியபோது, எதுவும் புரியாவிட்டாலும் தன் மகன் ஏதோ சாதித்துவிட்டான் என்று உணர்ந்து கண்கள் கலங்கி நின்றார் மாரியின் தாய் சண்முகம்.

மாரி என்கின்ற மாரிச்செல்வம், இராமநாதபுரம் மாவட்டம் கடலாடி ஒன்றியத்துக்கு உட்பட்ட மூக்கையூர் என்னும் கிராமத்தைச் சேர்ந்தவன். அந்த மாவட்டத்து மக்கள் பலருமே கூடக் கேள்விப்பட்டிருக்காத ஒரு குக்கிராமத்தில் இருந்து படித்துக்கொண்டே, அந்த மாவட்டத்தின் முதல் மாணவனாக மதிப்பெண் பெற்ற அவனை, அடுத்த நாள் வந்த பத்திரிகைகள் அனைத்தும் மாவட்டச் செய்திகளில் பட்டியல் இட்டன.

ஆனால் அவன் பரீட்சை எழுதியபோது அவனது குடும்பச் சூழ்நிலையை அறிந்தவர்கள் கொஞ்சம் வியந்துதான் போனார்கள். சோதனை மேல் சோதனையைத் தாங்கிக்கொண்டு, ஓர் ஏழைச் சிறுவனால் இவ்வளவு மதிப்பெண்கள் வாங்கமுடியுமா என தங்களுக்குள் கேள்வி கேட்டுக் கொண்டவர்கள் பலர்.

PAD நிறுவனத்தில் Christian Children Fund of Canada (CCFC) எனும் கிராமப்புறக் குழந்தைகளுக்கான உதவித்திட்டத்தில் உதவி பெற்றுவந்த மாரி, +1 சேர நிறுவன உதவி கேட்டு வந்தபோதுதான் PAD பணியாளர்களுக்கே, தேர்வெழுதிய சமயத்தில் மாரி சந்தித்த துயரங்கள் தெரியவந்தது.

மூக்கையூர் கிராமம்தான் மாரியின் சொந்த ஊர். எட்டாவது வரை அந்த ஊரில் உள்ள புனித யாக்கோபு நடுநிலைப் பள்ளியில் படிப்பை முடித்த மாரி, மேற்கொண்டு படிக்க அங்கிருந்து வேறு பள்ளிக்குச் செல்ல வேண்டியிருந்ததால், அதிலுள்ள கஷ்டங்களை உணர்ந்தவனாய், “அம்மா, நான் மேல படிக்கல. அப்பா கூடத் துணைக்குக் கடலுக்குப் போறேம்மா” என்று கூறினான்.

அதற்கு மேல் அவனைப் பேசவிடாமல் தடுத்த மாரியின் அப்பா முனியசாமி, “வேணாம் மாரி, நீ போய்ப் படி. அப்பா எல்லாத்தையும் பார்த்துகிறேன். நீ நல்லாப் படிக்கணுமென்னுதான் PAD-ல உனக்கு உதவி வாங்கித் தாராங்க… நல்லாப் படிக்கணும்யா. இப்படியெல்லாம் யோசிக்கக்கூடாது. உங்கக்கா பார்வதி நல்லாப் படிச்சாலும், எட்டாவதுக்கு மேல படிக்க உள்ளூர்ல ஸ்கூல் இல்லாததால படிக்க முடியாமப் போச்சுது. நீயாவது உன்னோட அக்கா வீட்டில போய் இருந்துகொண்டு மேல படிக்கப் பாரு. எப்படியாவது நம்ம வீட்டில நீயாவது படிச்சு நல்லாப் பிழைக்கணும். இதுதான் அப்பாவோட ஆசை” என்றார்.

அப்பாவின் வார்த்தைக்கு மறுப்பு ஏதும் கூறாமல் அவன் அக்காவின் வீடு இருக்கும் இராமநாதபுரம் மாவட்டம் முத்துப்பேட்டைக்கு அருகில் உள்ள வேலாயுதபுரம் என்னும் கிராமத்துக்குச் சென்று, அங்கிருந்த புனித சூசையப்பர் மேல்நிலைப் பள்ளியில் தனது படிப்பைத் தொடர்ந்தான் மாரி.

மாரியின் அப்பா முனியசாமி ஒரு கடல் கூலித் தொழிலாளி. யாரேனும் கடலுக்குப் போவதற்கு மேலதிகமாக ஆட்கள் தேவைப்பட்டால் முனியசாமியும் போவார். அது இல்லாத நாட்களில் சிறு வலையை எடுத்துக் கொண்டு கரையோர மீன்பிடித் தொழில் செய்வார். அவருக்கு மாரியைப் பற்றிப் பல கனவுகள் இருந்தன. தனது குடும்பத்தில் ஒருவராவது படித்து முன்னேறி வரவேண்டும் என்று அவர் கனவு கண்டார்.

ஐந்து பெண் குழந்தைகள், இரண்டு ஆண் குழந்தைககளைக் கொண்ட பெரிய குடும்பம் அவருடையது. கடின உழைப்பும் ஒழுக்கமான வாழ்க்கையுமே அதீத வறுமை அந்தக் குடும்பத்தை அண்டவிடாமல் காத்தது. நான்கு பெண்களுக்கும், ஒரு மகனுக்கும் திருமணம் முடித்துவிட்டார். எஞ்சியிருப்பது மாரியும், இன்னொரு அக்கா பானுப்ரியாவும்தான். மாரியைப் படிக்க வைக்க வேண்டும், சொந்தமாக ஒரு வள்ளம் வாங்கவேண்டும் என்று தன்னுடைய கனவுகளை அடைய இரவும் பகலுமாக உழைத்துக்கொண்டிருந்த முனியசாமிக்கு மூளையில் கட்டி வந்து பல வருடங்களாக அவதிப்பட்டு வந்தார்.

இந்த நிலையில் முத்துப்பேட்டையில் அக்கா வீட்டில் படித்துக்கொண்டிருந்த மாரி படிப்பில் கவனம் செலுத்தியதோடு விடுமுறை நாட்களில் அவன் அம்மாவுடன் சேர்ந்து கரிமூட்டம் அள்ளும் வேலைக்கும், மாமாவுடன் (அக்காவின் கணவர்) கடல் தொழிலுக்கும் சென்று குடும்ப பாரத்தையும் விரும்பிச் சுமந்தான்.

“மாரி, இப்படிப் படிச்சா நல்ல மார்க் எடுக்கமாட்ட! இதெல்லாம் விட்டுட்டு ஒழுங்காப் படிக்க பாரு” என்று அவனுடைய அக்கா முருகேஸ்வரி அவனைக் கட்டுப்படுத்தி வந்தார்.

முருகேஸ்வரி மாரியின் மூத்த அக்கா. அவருக்கும் மூன்று பெண் குழந்தைகள், ஓர் ஆண் குழந்தை. மாரியையும் தனது மகன் போலவே வளர்த்து வந்தார். வீட்டுக்கு மூத்த பெண் என்பதால் தன் தந்தை வீட்டின் அனைத்து நலன்களிலும் பங்கெடுத்துவந்தார். முருகேஸ்வரியின் கணவர் முனியனும் பரந்த மனம் படைத்தவர். இருவரும் சேர்ந்துதான் முருகேஸ்வரியின் சகோதரிகளின் திருமணங்களை முடித்து வைத்தனர்.

தேர்வுகள் எழுத இரண்டு மாதங்கள் இருக்கும் நிலையில் மாரியின் தந்தை மூளையில் இருந்த கட்டி காரணமாக, சிகிச்சை ஏதும் பலன் அளிக்காமல் இறந்துபோனார். துவண்டுபோன மாரியை மீண்டும் பள்ளிக்குப் படிக்க அனுப்பப் பெரும் பாடு பட்டார் தாய் சண்முகம். அதன்பின் குடும்பச் சுமை முழுதும் தாய் சண்முகம் தலையில் விழ, அவரும் மகள் வீட்டில் இருந்து விறகு வெட்டச் செல்வது, கூலி வேலைக்குச் செல்வது, கரிமூட்டம் எனப் பல வேலைகளைப் பார்க்கத் தொடங்கினார்.

வறுமையின் மத்தியில் தன் படிப்பைத் தொடர்ந்த மாரி தேர்வு எழுதத் தயாராகிக்கொண்டிருந்தான்.

தேர்வு நாளும் வந்தது.

முதல் இரண்டு தேர்வுகளையும் எழுதி முடித்து வந்த மாரியிடம், “பரீட்சை நல்லா எழுதிருக்கியா மாரி?” என அக்கா கேட்டார்.

“ஆமாக்கா. இன்னிக்கு English II பேப்பர். இனிதான் மேத்ஸ் பேப்பர் வரும். அதை நாளை மறுநாள் எழுதணும்” என்று பதில் சொல்லிக்கொண்டே அக்காவின் முகத்தைப் பார்த்த மாரிக்கு ஏதோ சரியில்லை என்று பட்டது.

“என்னக்கா! என்னாச்சு?” என்று அவன் பதற, “ஒண்ணுமில்ல மாரி, நெஞ்சு கரிச்சிக்கிட்டே இருக்கு. அசதியா இருக்கு. சித்த நேரம் தூங்குனா சரியாயிரும்” என்றார்.

“சரிக்கா, நீ போய் தூங்குக்கா” என்ற மாரி தானே சோறு போட்டுச் சாப்பிட்டுவிட்டு படிக்கச் சென்றுவிட்டான்.

அன்று இரவு அவன் அக்காவுக்குக் கடுமையான நெஞ்சுவலி. ஏற்கெனவே இருதய அறுவை சிகிச்சை செய்திருந்த முருகேஸ்வரி, ஆஸ்பத்திரிக்குக் கொண்டுசெல்லும் வழியிலேயே இறந்துவிட கதறி அழுத மாரியை, “நாளைக்குப் பரீட்சை எழுதணும் … நீ நல்லாப் படிக்கணுமென்னுதான் உங்கக்கா ஆசைப்பட்டா” என்று அனைவரும் தேற்றினர்.

“மாரி, நீ போய் பரீட்சை எழுதிட்டு வா. அதுக்குப் பிறகு இறுதிச் சடங்கு வச்சுக்கலாம்” என அவன் மாமா கூறவும், அவர் வார்த்தைக்குக் கட்டுப்பட்டு, தன்னைத் தாயாக இருந்து பார்த்துக்கொண்ட சகோதரியின் பிணத்தருகே அழுதுகொண்டே படித்த மாரியை நினைத்து இப்போதும் கண்ணீர் வடிக்கிறார் அவன் தாய் சண்முகம்.

”என்ன சார் மார்க் எடுத்தேன். அம்மா மாதிரியிருந்த அக்கா சாவுக்கு அழக்கூட முடியாமல் பரீட்சைக்குப் படித்த பாவி சார்” என்று மாரி உடைந்து அழும் போது, நாமும் சேர்ந்து உடைய வேண்டிவருகின்றது.

அடுத்தநாள் அவன் பரீட்சை எழுதி முடித்துவிட்டு வரும்வரை அவனுடைய உறவினர்கள் காத்திருந்தனர். அவன் வந்ததும், அவனைக் கொண்டு அக்காவின் இறுதிச்சடங்குகளை நடத்தி முடித்தனர். சடங்குகள் அனைத்தும் முடிந்து, அடுத்த இரண்டு பரீட்சைகளையும் கனத்த இதயத்துடன் எழுதி முடித்தான் மாரி. பரீட்சைகள் முடிந்ததும் அம்மாவுடன் சேர்ந்து கரிமூட்டம் அள்ளும் வேலையில் இறங்கிவிட்டான்.

இந்த நிலையில்தான் அவனது தேர்வு முடிவுகள் வெளிவந்ததன.

அவனுடைய ஆசிரியர்கள், சக மாணவர்கள், அந்த ஊர் மக்கள் என் அனைவருக்குமே அவன் தேர்வு எழுதும்போது இருந்த நிலை நன்கு தெரியும். அப்படிப்பட்ட நிலையிலும் அவன் எடுத்த மதிப்பெண்கள் என்ன தெரியுமா? தமிழ் 95, ஆங்கிலம் 98, கணிதம் 100, அறிவியல் 99, சமூக அறிவியல் 98.

சாதாரண நிலையில் இருக்கும் மாணவர்கள் இந்த மதிப்பெண்களை எடுக்கும்போதே ஆச்சரியப்படும் நமக்கு மாரியின் நிலையில் இருந்து பார்த்தால் பரிட்சையில் தேறுவோமா என்பதே சந்தேகம். அதிலும் அவனுடைய அக்காவின் இறுதிச் சடங்கன்று கணிதப் பரீட்சை எழுதி 100-க்கு 100 மதிப்பெண் பெற்றிருப்பதை என்னவென்று சொல்வது?

மாரியுடன் சேர்ந்து பரீட்சை எழுதிய அவனுடைய அக்கா மகள் நிர்மலாவும் 423 மதிப்பெண்கள் எடுத்து நல்ல முறையில் தேர்ச்சி பெற்றிருக்கிறாள்.

இத்தனை இடர்களுக்கும் மத்தியில் தனது 10-வது வகுப்பை முடித்துவிட்டு +1 சேர இருக்கும் மாரிக்கு இன்னும் பிரச்னைகளும் துன்பங்களும் முடிந்தபாடில்லை.

கடந்த சில வருடங்களாக மாரிக்கு ஓயாத தலைவலி. வறுமையும் அடுத்தடுத்து வந்த சோகச் சம்பவங்களும் உளவியல்ரீதியாக மாரியை மிகவும் பாதித்துள்ளது. தாங்கமுடியாத தலைவலியால் அவதியுறும் அவனை உள்ளூர் வைத்தியர்களிடம் காட்டியபோது பிரச்னை ஏதும் இல்லை எனச் சொல்லிவிட்டனர். கோயம்புத்தூரில் ஒரு மருத்துவரை அணுகி விசாரித்த போது மாரியின் இருதயத்தில் பிரச்னை இருப்பதாகவும் அதைச் சரிசெய்ய சிறிது காலம் தேவை எனவும், அறுவை சிகிச்சை மூலம் அதைச் சரி செய்ய 21 வயதுவரை பொருத்திருக்கவேண்டும் என்றும் கூறியுள்ளனர். சிகிச்சைக்கு உதவ PAD தொண்டு நிறுவனம் உறுதி அளித்துள்ளது.

அடுத்து Biology, Maths குரூப்பில் சேர்ந்து படிக்க விரும்பும் மாரி, இன்னும் எந்தப் பள்ளியில் சேர்வது, மேற்கொண்டு படிப்புக்கு என்ன செய்வது என்ற குழப்பத்தில் இருக்கிறான். அத்துடன் அவனுடைய தாய் சண்முகத்துக்கும் உடல்நிலை சரியில்லை. குடும்ப பாரம் முழுவதையும் சுமந்து கொண்டிருக்கும் மாமா முனியன் பற்றிய கவலையும் மாரியை அரிக்கிறது.

இப்படிப் பல இடர்களுக்கு மத்தியிலும், தன் மனவலிகளையும் உடல் வலிகளையும் தாங்கிக்கொண்டு தனது அடுத்த சாதனைக்குத் தயாராகி விட்டான் மாரிச்செல்வம்

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“An attack on the religion, and not the religious…” by @GrumpyComments

I agree with Felix O’Shea when he says that he hates religion. Jesus himself was in no way religious and he uttered some very strong words against the religious leaders and religious teachers of his period. In turn he was ridiculed and rebuked by the priesthood of his period. They waited for the moment to pounce on him. See Mark 11:27-33 and my post in my blog Inspirations titled “By what authority?”

We should not forget the fact that it was religion that crucified Jesus for teaching against their way of teacching.

I am reproducing below an article posted by Felix O’Shea (@GrumpyComments) titled “An attack on the religion, and not the religious…” that conveys my thought in essence.

An attack on the religion, and not the religious…

Posted on April 10, 2012 by @GrumpyComments

There’s a little rant that I’d like to get off my chest, but I certainly don’t want it to misunderstood, or misinterpreted.

I hate religion.

Now, this is a very bold statement of course, and any initial presumptions you might have for my meaning need to be set aside for a moment. I don’t hate religious people; I don’t hate people who believe in god, or worship him, or put their faith in Jesus, or believe in a higher power or a creation theory. I don’t hate any of these people much in the same way as I don’t hate an owl for eating a mouse, a cloud for blocking the sunshine, or my girlfriend for using a Mac instead of a Windows. Every life form on Earth operates in the way they believe to be in optimum equilibrium with what they want, what they need, and what they perceive of the world around them. If a person wants to find their strength and faith in something supernatural or religious, then I’ll gladly march for their right to do so. No, I don’t hate any religious person, even to the level of zealots and extremists taking lives and terrorising people. They too are simply trying to live in accordance with what they have been taught to, or chosen to, believe.

Religion itself however, as a singular entity, is something I can hate.

It is a single idea that exists on a plane free of logic or observable fact, amidst a sea of denied philosophies and repressed ideas. From the extreme, to the conservative, no religious denomination has been able to fit itself into the modern world without some degree of a needless logical leap or an unessasary suspension of disbelief. The apparent answers provided by religion pose no benefit to humanity that a person can’t find for themselves via a more appropriate passage; and as such, the anger and the hate and the racism, the misogyny and the homophobia, are in no way an acceptable counter-balance for the negative reapercussions of many of today’s modern religious organisations. I accept the good that many of these groups do for the world, but as I said, these are not deeds that need to be applied to religion, but actions that man is perfectly capable of rationally deciding to undertake, for the benefit of those around them

If your god tells you that it’s wrong to be gay, or that women should be subservient, or that people who believe in something that contradicts your own views should burn in hell, then that’s fine. I accept that you’re only following the beliefs and ideals that you have been raised around or have stumbled upon, and while I hope you decide to some day walk a different path, I understand that you have the right not to. I don’t hate you, nor do I harbour any ill-will towards you.

Religion itself however, I do hate. I hate that this is a world in which it needs to exist. I hate the notion that people need it, and willingly perpetuate its existence in the face of all the bad that it has done and will do to the collective people of this world. I hate the concept that there exists something that after over one hundred thousand years, still controls people’s thoughts and actions despite no credible proof of its validity.

One day, I like to think that it will be gone, and then at least people will have a little bitless to fight about.

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Western Christian Society Okays Bikini or G-string but Abhors Women Wearing Veils or Head-scarfs.


Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj


One of the problems Saint Paul had to handle in Corinth was how to persuade the women to dress properly in the assembly.

In Paul’s period, women had been participating in worship at Corinth without the head-covering as was normal in Greek society. Paul’s stated that his goal was to bring these women into conformity with contemporary Jewish practice and propriety. In order to convince them, he put forward arguments from a variety of sources, though he had space to develop them only sketchily and was perhaps aware that they differed greatly in persuasiveness.

Man and Woman – 1 Corinthians 11:3-16

But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ.

Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head.

But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved.

For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off.

But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil.

A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.

For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord.

For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God.

Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled?

Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been
given [her] for a covering?

But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God.

Twenty years ago, in India, all Christian women, especially Catholic women, when they entered the churches covered their heads with a veil or the fold of their saree. But now it has become a fashion with women not to cover their head in church but wear coiffures in different styles. These women and young girls scoff at those few who cover their heads labeling them as old fashioned.

Even nuns belonging to certain orders wear sarees and do not cover their heads even while dispensing Holy Communion.

What bothers me and most Catholics is the fact that our clergy express pleasure by admiring the uncovered heads of our women folk in churches, be they saree clad nuns or lay women.

So, as Catholics and Christians why not, why can’t and why don’t our women folk, whether they are nuns or not, cover their heads in churches?

Recently, I came across the following video excerpt and was impressed by what Sheikh Khaled Yasin says.


Question: What’s With Female Head Coverings? (thewayeverlasting.com)Add this anywhere