The message 'go out and vote' is now coming down from the pulpit. Yes, voting has progressed from being a democratic value to a moral mandate.
Catholic churches across the Capital, for one, are actively involved in 'awakening worshippers' towards this right. Close to 20 people were deployed by church leaders to address people on this issue after mass service on Saturdays and Sundays.
“In the recent past, several sacred places have been attacked by people with ideological leanings. It's, therefore, our duty as citizens to elect candidates who have the courage to protect people against such indiscriminate attacks,” said Fr. Dominic Emmanuel, spokesperson for Delhi Catholic Church.
The atrocities committed against the community in Orissa, according to Emmanuel, are an important driving force behind this concerted effort.
“As a community, we have concrete examples from the Kandhamal riots, which had to be cited to help people understand the importance of electing the right people to power. People who have an equal respect for all lives. But we ensured that none of the speakers ended up advocating a specific candidate or party,” he added.
At Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Ashoka Road, the effort is not so pointed. But the message to vote for the right candidate does occasionally make its way into religious sermons, as it did on Monday afternoon.
“I don’t see it as anything extraordinary. Just as I speak against dowry and corruption in society, I addressed the issue of exercising one’s franchise wisely today,” said Head Priest Sat Nam, referring to his sermon during which he exhorted worshippers to not vote for candidates who try to buy votes with money or alcohol.
“We haven't instructed any of our priests to address this issue specifically, but one is at liberty to discuss anything that has to do with the society’s good. Anything said here has a wide reach as we have people from all communities coming here. I appreciate the fact that Sat Nam tried to spread the word at the meeting out of his sense of duty,” said Joginder Singh Walia, member, Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee.