It’s hard to miss the quaint building in Neendakara. The board outside calls it the Latin Catholic church. But on the steeple is a giant ‘Om’, not the cross. Inside, the walls are plastered with images from Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism and even Zoroastrianism. You have just stepped into a laboratory on religious amity, where people from all faiths are welcome.
The Neendakara church, now called the Jagat Jyoti Mandir, is a cross between a church and temple. So after the Sunday mass, the devotees stay back for MS Subhalaskhmi’s mellifluous ‘bhajans’.
“We wanted to set an example. It wasn’t easy but we are slowly gaining acceptability,” said Father Romance Antony. Initially, the Christians had thought it was a ploy to dilute their religion while the Hindus had thought the church was trying to convert poor fisherfolk.
“Most of the Vedas do not pertain to any religion. Symbols like ‘Om’ transcend all barriers and aren’t confined to any particular section,” explained Father Antony as he sat cross-legged, listening to the bhajans.
When the changeover took place recently, skeptics dismissed it as a temporary affair. But they were proved wrong. “Initially, we were reluctant to attend the church. But the best part is that we all are equals here,” said Francis Jacob, a devotee.