Celebrating the Light of Freedom

Jesuit Conference of India/South Asia organized an online Inter-Religious Prayer on 3rd December, 2020. On this day, it was decided to celebrate the light of freedom to stand with those who suffer oppression and injustice, especially the indigenous people of our country (India) and the globe and to stand with the Human Rights Defenders like Fr. Stan Swamy, SJ, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Fereira, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Anand Teltumde, Gautam Navlakha and others.

The program was broadcasted live and nearly 500 participants from across the globe had joined the inter-religious prayer. The online prayer depicted the Jal Jungle and Zameen which is seen as the representatives of the animating spirits that gives life to all. The Supreme being is the one with that sustaining us through the sky, the forest, the land and the water. In the tribal communities, everything in creation invites us for celebration.

There was moments of silence, reflection, and meditation with devotional song Jyoti played in the background.

For 100s of years the tribal communities, especially in the resource rich, have been exploited and marginalised, by the so called the mainstream society. The natural resources have been looted and the people have been marginalised. They have been left to fend for themselves. The struggle to save the Jal, Jungle and zameen still continues despite the apathy from the political community and the larger society.

Fr. Vincent Ekka, SJ, Dept of Tribal Studies, ISI, Delhi shared a Tribal Myth story, on how the earth was created and how the Dharmesh taught people how to cultivate, sow seeds, and how to take care of the entire creation. This story shows the co-relation between the creator and the creation.

A tribal dance showing the togetherness of the community in their cultural dress was presented. Mr. Damodar Co-ordinator, Vistapan Virodhi Janvikas Andolan People from the tribal community shared his views on the ongoing struggle that is going on for the Jal Jungle, Zameen and the source of livelihood. Ms. Aloka Kujur, Member, Adivasi Adhikar Manch, said, Fr. Stan Swamy, SJ used to question the violation of the rights of the people by the State. Mr. Siraj, Social Activist said, although Fr. Stan was quite aged and suffered from Parkinsons disease he used to go dedicatedly go for rally and protest which predicted this commitment. Mr. Prabha Lakra added, that she is able to speak because of Fr. Stan Swamy as he has been an inspiration to her. Mr. Xavier Das, Social Activist, said, Fr. Stan had made a statement with his body. He had the courage to do stand for the poor. Stand sets up an example to stand up for the marginalised and be ready to pay the price. Fr.Nitin, SJ prayed and concluded the inter- religious prayer.

The recording of the Inter-Religious Prayer is available on the link given: