|Wild goats are a common sight in India.|
The caste system has not gone away. All Indians must carry a caste certificate, but many from lower castes have changed their religion from Hindu to Islam, Buddhism and Christianity, as a way of escaping its worst aspects. You can gloss over one’s caste by saying that you are a Christian, take any job, worship in any church and marry another Christian.
The vast majority of marriages, even Christian marriages, are arranged. Young men and women do not socialise and dating is frowned upon. Parents find husbands/wives by searching ‘matrimonial’ classifieds in newspapers and on the internet. Christian marriages take place in church, with no civil ceremony required, and the groom is ‘allowed’ to appear in a suit, although the bride will wear a sari. If the bridge and groom are from different faiths, she is expected to convert to his religion.
In India you wear your religion like a football scarf, with, perhaps, a Cross or a ‘Jesus is Lord’ emblazoned across your car windscreen. Our tour bus had ‘Maasha Allah’ painted on the front.
|Rice Boat in backwaters of Kerala.|
Several days into our tour, our British tour manager, M, was stricken with acute stomach pains, necessitating many trips to the doctor, then to the hospital. D, our local guide, who hadn’t known M until the start of our tour, accompanied him to all these visits, staying up all night with him in hospital until a decision was made to carry out surgery. The following day, without sleep, D did M’s job as well as his own, taking us out on our day’s schedule of touring, with good humour and enthusiasm, and, in fact, D continued to lead us by himself for the rest of our holiday. D is an Indian Christian. D is a modern Good Samaritan. The Church of Southern India is alive and visible and not just through its magnificent buildings.
What an amazing cue for our next ACW competition, which we are about to launch in association with Street Pastors. For this comp, you may enter a piece of fiction or non-fiction on Today’s Good Samaritans. As this is an open competition, an entry fee will be chargeable. More details in the spring edition of Christian Writer.