Patna, July 15: Amid the political debate over religious conversions in the country, a number of persons belonging to the Mahadalit community have converted to Christianity in Bihar's Gaya district in the last one month or so.
This happenned in Belwadih village under Naili Panchayat in the district. The residents of the village claimed that the conversions were taking place with their free will and no one had forced or lured them into adopting Christianity.
Raju Manjhi, a villager of Belwadih, said: "The situation in this village was normal. Then, people of our community started going for prayers to adjoining Wajidpur village. Now, they have adopted the Christian religion."
"The conversion of Mahadalits (Hindu) to Christianity began from one Kewla Devi, whose son was ill for a long time and was unable to recover from his illness. Someone suggested that she take the help of Christian people for his treatment. Kewla Devi contacted them for her child's treatment. Soon after, her son recovered from his illness," Manjhi said.
"Kewla and her family immediately converted to Christianity. Soon many others of the same community followed her and converted to the Christian religion," Manjhi said.
Another villager Rajeshwar Manjhi said: "Being a Mahadalit, life in the village is extremely tough. Casteism still flourishes in the region. We are not allowed to go to some of the temples located in the adjoining villages."
"Such a thing does not happen in a Church. It is a place where anyone can go and worship God," Rajeshwar Manjhi said.
He added that around 100 villagers have adopted Christianity and others will soon follow suit.
"Adopting the Christian religion is our own decision. No one has forced or lured us for the same," he said.