“Dalit Culture, Dalit history, Dalit pathos:
Regaining the lost identity in Christ”.
We are in a crucial point of time in the Indian history, while we celebrate the Dalit Liberation Sunday in 2014. The grip of fascism and communalism becomes firm on Indian society. These regressive and dangerous elements are only the tip of the iceberg and the undercurrent of all these elements in India is casteism.
Forceful reconversions of the Dalit Christians, adamant denial of any possibility to extend Scheduled Caste status to Christians and Muslims from Dalit origin by a Central Minister of India, brutal killings of Dalits- in which Ahmednagar killing was the most brutal- and the lethargic attitude of police and the state in rendering investigation with justice, and the result of the survey conducted by the Merry Land University of US and National Council of Applied Economic Research that every fourth Indian still believes in untouchability are pointers to the dangerous shift in the Indian social matrix.
The most unfortunate factor is that the church in India is not an exemption from caste- based discrimination. When the Indian society is becoming for and more rightist, and the church is hesitant to take a stand against it, the lives of the Dalits, Tribals, Adivasis and the vulnerable communities in India.
The awakening of Dalits led by the Dalit intellectuals and theologians is the ray of hope amidst the tribulations for Dalits. Regaining the identity of Dalits using cultural ethos, rectified history by firmly focusing on the salvific acts of Christ is the theme of the Dalit Liberation Sunday in 2014. Let us celebrate the identity of Dalits in Christ!
Rev Sunil Raj Philip Ms Ramani Ramya Krupa
Executive Secretary, Chairperson,
Commission on Dalits, NCCI. Commission on Dalits, NCCI.
Some ideas for the Dalit Liberation Sunday Worship
Instructions to entry (Drama to enact)
At the beginning of the service, a Dalit man/woman with little dress stands at a corner of the chapel. The minister sees him and invites him to the front side. He walks towards the front.
Two dominant caste people sitting at the front stand up and block his way, scold him and push him/her back. The minister loudly says “do not block his way, let him come, he is also the son of Abraham.” A group of Dalit people enter the chapel with drums beating, and says aloud, “We are identified with the Jesus of Nazarene, we are delivered not captives, we are accepted not rejected, we are insiders and will not stand outside.” Along with the drum beaters the Dalit man/woman walks to the front Altar. The minister offers him/her clothes and says, “Here is the cloth of salvation, it liberates you; put on, and restore identity with the Christ our redeemer.”
O, the seeking Lord, especially, the rejected
O, the deliverer Lord, especially, the captives
We harp, free, free, to the Lord of Salvation
Save us and set us free,
O let the love that fills our breasts
Cling to you lovingly
Fill this world with a spirit of solidarity to the oppressed
Let our hate turn to love
Let our differences turn to sameness
Wrap us in your unity
Restore each of our identity
We invite the Lord who lowers thyself to live in a culture of oppressed.
We invite the suffering servant who hears our cries and removes the pain of marginalization
We invite the Lord who act in history to pulls out the downtrodden from non-identity to their identity, Amen.
Most merciful God, we with our rejoicing heart come to your presence to worship you in unity. You have rescued the crunched human from the puddle and elevated into your glory. We worship you to comfort ourselves in restraining the oppression and regaining our identity. Let all the oppressed and estranged prosper. We pray, Oh God, build a table to share the fellowship of love through the meals we have in your presence. Let the seeds of unity and togetherness plant in our hearts and densely grow with countless branches. Oh God, do not allow the disease of discrimination and pestilence of marginalization to enter us… Oh God, bring happiness to all of us; And let new life blossom, Amen.
Help us accept each other [Tune: The Church’s One Foundation]
- Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us
Teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace
Be present, Lord, among us, and bring us to believe
We are out selves accepted and meant to love and live
- Teach us, O Lord, your lessons, as in our daily life
We struggle to be human and search for hope and faith
Teach us to care for people, for all, not just for some
To love them as we find them, or as they may become
- Let your acceptance change us, so that we may be moved
In living situations to do the truth in love
To practice your acceptance, until we know by heart
The table of forgiveness and laughter’s healing art
- Lord, for today’s encounters with all who are in need
Who hunger for acceptance, for righteousness and bread
We need new eyes for seeing, new hands for holding on
Renew us with your spirit, Lord, free us, make us one!
Confession (in Unison)
You have sown the seeds of love in my heart; But I have not watered it with my tears Lord forgive.
You have shown me the news of Dalit girls raped; But I have not responded Lord forgive.
You have shown me the homeless Dalit; And I have cared only for my own home Lord forgive.
You have shown me the naked Dalit neighbor; But I have only clothed myself Lord forgive.
You have shown me the wounded Dalit who is working with me; And I have been concerned with my own pain Lord forgive.
You have shown me the friendless Dalit boy; And I have nurtured my own friendships Lord forgive,
You have shown me the bereaved Dalit family weeping; And I have sought out others to comfort me Lord forgive.
You have shown me those who do not know your love;
And I have failed to share that which you have given me Lord forgive and help me to obey.
Absolution (in unison)
God we thank you that you are gracious enough to forgive our sins, when we confess them before you. Amen
Affirmation of Faith (in unison)
Wherever I look there are you, God!
You are, God, the shape of all surrounding space.
You are, God, the Universal Eye
You are, God, the arms of all
You are, God, the feet of all
O Lord of Confluence.
I came to this world a stranger
For already my grandparents
Were made strangers in their own land…
I needed something, somebody to hold on to
I needed something, somebody to make me belong
I searched everywhere…
Then, the Nazarene saw me weeping
And he said, ‘Child, I am on your side.
Who can be against you?’
He identified himself with me
He became poor and oppressed.
The Spirit of life “poured out on all flesh”
Human flesh the weak, powerless and hopeless
All who do not have a full standing in life,
and who no longer fully participate in life
shall be the first to experience the power of the Spirit.
Opressed shall “prophesy” the word of God,
and there is no longer any domination.
Servants and slaves receive the Holy Spirit,
and the Spirit-filled, messianic community will become
the community of “the free and equal”.
They will witness to the rest of the world
that there is deliverance in the midst of danger.
Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11
Philemon 1: 15- 17
Psalm 80: 1- 7
St. Luke 1: 46- 55
Some points to ponder:
- A brief introduction about the pains and pathos of Dalits in India.
- Problems faced by the Dalits in the current Indian situations.
- The promise given to the marginalized communities in the book of Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11 in which the righteousness of God that will bring justice to the oppressed communities is portrayed.
- The story of Onesimus suggests a new status for the slave in Jesus Christ. The new identity of Dalits in Jesus Christ suggests equality, new humanity and self esteem.
- Magnificat gives the best expression of the new identity in Christ. It is about a new world order. Dalits look forward for a new world order.
Prayers (in unison; maintain a brief moment of silence after each prayer)
O our God, Creator of humankind, where are you?
Your children are crying and weeping, O God, Creator of humankind, where are you?
O God, you come to us at our courtyard, You come to our door.
You come at our door in our courtyard and Give help to us
O God, our creator, Where are you?
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of untouchability, division, heinous talk and carelessness. But give rather the spirit of acceptance, unity, embracement, and love to your servant. Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions in looking at fellow beings as downtrodden, and not to judge my brother or sister, for you are blessed for evermore. Amen.
Lord, we come before you as we are. We ask you to take away from us all that makes us less than human. Strengthen us with the power of your Spirit that our attitude and outlook may develop, and our “way of looking” may become more like yours. Help us to remain positive encouraging and appreciating one another, looking upon people in the same way that you do. Amen.
O God, promote unity…among the workers in your vineyard. Let the workers of you work out without selfishness, and not neglecting the interests of our brothers and sisters. Let all your members do not work independently and apart from each other, looking upon the others as intruders and enemies. Teach everyone to remember, Master, that we are all employed in your service, and that you have apportioned our respective duties and obligations, and help all so to identify themselves and their interests as to be of one heart and one aim. Whatever our peculiarities and differences may be, O God, grant that we may work with one heart for the amelioration of the people, loving and honoring each other, and allowing and helping each to do the work you have appointed for us.
Lord’s Prayer (Modified) in unison
God, our parent who is everywhere, and who is always with us, help us to hallow your name by our actions of justice towards Dalits, marginalized and strangers that will promote the values of your kingdom. Guide us to know your will and make us do it in our lives, and help us to make others also do your will. God of everyone, please grant us the daily food, especially to those who are in want of food after losing everything in the hands of unjust forces. O God, first help us to forgive others’ mistakes and then forgive our sins that we do to others in the name of religion, caste, class, gender and region. Help us to realize that you are the one who owns everything and who alone has all the power and glory and by realizing that, make us understand that we are nothing, but are here to do your will alone. Amen
Closing Prayer: Prayer of Dedication
Lord, I want be a candle,
Candle with your flame;
For when unlighted,
It is candle only in name…
When touched by your flame,
I will burn;
To add a little more light and warmth
In today’s dark and cold world of oppression;
As a sign of hope, In the valley of gloom;
And as a glimmering beacon,
In the voyage towards the Light.
Let it burn in the wind,
And against the whirlwind;
And be saved from the painful
Of the wick from the flame,
even till the end.
Let it burn, let it burn.
For, to be a candle is to burn.
To spread rays of light around,
Let it burn…
The love of Lord Jesus draw us to himself, the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service, the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our hearts; May the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, rest upon us and upon all our work and worship done in His name. May God give us light to guide us, courage to support us, and love to unite us, now and forever more. Amen.
Confession: By Ethel Jenkins in Dare to Dream.*
Affirmation of Faith: By Basavanna in The Lord of the Meeting Rivers; Pakiso Tendi in The Nazarene, and Jurgen Moltmann in The Holy Spirit and the Theology of Life.
Prayers: A traditional poem of the Oraon Tribe; A song of Pulayas; A prayer by K.C. Sen and A poem of the Santal Tribes.*
Closing prayer: A prayer by O.V. Jathanna (from Doing Theology with the Poetic Traditions of India.*
Benediction: Daily Prayers for the People of God, pp.110-111.
* Prayers have been modified in order to comprise inclusiveness and to suit worship
Dr. Muthuraj Swamy, HOD Theology and Ethics, UBS, Pune
Mr. Shinu John Chacko, student BD final year, UBS, Pune