HYDERABAD: After facing ban threats in Mumbai and Kerala following objections from Catholic groups, ‘Agnes of God’- an adaptation of a drama written by American playwright John Pielmeier, about the ordeal of a nun who gave birth to a child, is facing the wrath of the community in Hyderabad also. Various Catholic/ Christian associations in Hyderabad have upped the ante seeking a ban on the play. The protesters warned that if the government failed to stop the play, which hurts the sentiments of the community, there will be ‘serious’ repercussions.
The play is scheduled to be staged at Lamakaan in Banjara Hills on October 9 and 10.
Father S Bernard, vicar general of Hyderabad Archdiocese, claimed that the play hurts the sentiments of the community.“The religious sentiments of Catholics/Christians have been gravely hurt by a highly objectionable play - ‘Agnes of God’. Our objections to the play begins with the title itself, which is an adulterated version of the Latin phrase Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), referring to Lord Jesus Christ and his birth through Mother Mary’s immaculate conception. If the play is not stalled, then we will hold massive protests near the venue,” he warned.
“What made Vinay Verma, director of the play, choose a subject like this, why does he need to portray our community in bad light to gain popularity? If he doesn’t have topics to make plays, then he can borrow some ideas from us. He is not sending out any good message by staging this play and he should stop doing such cheap stunts for publicity,” the association said.
“Any untoward incidents that happens on Friday will be the responsibility of the government. We have already made it clear that if there is no ban then there will be protests,” said Martin Michel, Secretary General of Catholic Federation of Telangana State.
“From the day the BJP government came to power, they are doing their best to destroy our community. First with ‘Ghar Wapsi’ they forcefully converted Christians into Hinduism and now with such kind of plays, they are trying to destroy our roots and are trying to foment religious hatred among the people. Even the TRS government is supporting them because of their own interests,” alleged C A Daniel Adams, President of the National Congress of Indian Christians.
The Catholics have already written to the chief minister and Hyderabad Police Commissioner M Mahendar Reddy seeking to ban the play. They are planning to stage a protest in front of the Lamakaan auditorium at 8:30 am on Friday to stall the staging of the play.
Director Defends the Play
Vinay Verma, the director of ‘Agnes of God’ said that the controversy was unnecessary. “I don’t know from where they are getting Jesus and Christianity into the play. Why can’t they just see it as another play. If they have any problem with the content, then they need to write to the writer. We did not bring anything new into this country, this play has already been staged in India in 1985 and 87. We need a ban on bans or ban all religions so that there will be no dictatorship and all that we care for will be bread and butter,” Verma added.
Catholic Institutions Closed Today
Around 125 Catholic institutions in Telangana will remain closed on Friday, protesting the staging of ‘Agnes of God’, a play that allgedly hurts the sentiments of the community. Meanwhile, CM K Chandrasekhar Rao has agreed to review the play in view of the protests. The chief minister, along with officials and the Catholic Bishop will review the play on Friday evening after which a decision will be taken on the demand to ban the play. The Catholics said that they will suspend the agitations as CM has agreed to intervene.