Suspected devil worshippers attacked St Mary’s Malankara Catholic Church in Pune’s Warje Malwadi neighbourhood on Monday. Father Varghese Valikodath, who is in charge of the church, said several people “broke into our church in Warje Malwadi in the small hours on Independence Day, vandalized the altar, burnt the tabernacle, as well as tearing up the bible and prayer books.”
Paintings of Jesus, Mary and other saints were defaced, and the words “Satan is God” were written on walls. Robbery is not thought to be a motive as collection money and valuables were not stolen.
According to Father Valikodath, it could be the work of “some devil-worshipping group”. This would not be the first time suspected devil worshippers have attacked a church in India. In 2006 they entered a church in Mizoram and burned bibles, urinated on the pulpit and tore up pictures of Jesus and Mary. They also sacrificed an animal and splattered its blood on the altar.
Such incidences are fuelling suspicion of a rise in Satan worship in some parts of India. According to faculty members of Theological College in Aizawl, Mizoram, youth who are influenced by drugs and inspired by films about the paranormal and the occult practice bizarre rituals.
This is, however, the first incident of its kind involving Pune’s Syro-Malankara community. The local Catholic community have condemned the act. They have also appealed to the state authorities to bring the culprits to justice.
According to AsiaNews, “more than 3,000 attacks have been recorded against Indian churches in the past few years. Last Saturday, the glass protecting an image of Christ in St Anthony’s Catholic Church in Vashicherry, Alapuzha, in Kerala, was also smashed, the second attack this month.”