Mumbai, (The Hindu): Don Bosco High School’s rector Fr. Crispino D’Souza has stirred up a storm after photos of him performing an aarti during Navratri celebrations were circulated on Wednesday.
The priest had impressed many after videos of him swaying to garba tunes went viral earlier this week. But many who lauded him for his dancing have now raised questions on his participation in the ritual.
“Participating in garba was a welcome step towards inter-religious bonding. But performing an aarti sends the wrong signal to the congregation,” said Godfrey Pimenta of the Bombay Catholic Sabha.
Fr. Warner D’souza, head of the Archdiocesan Heritage Museum said that worshiping any other god would go against the first commandment. “When I saw the videos, my first thought was that it was a great way of expressing inter-religious harmony. The music that was playing in the background was secular too. But the second image has surprised me,” he said. The image sets confusion in the minds of the congregation, he added.
The celebrations took place on the Don Bosco grounds in Matunga on Sunday. Fr. Crispino can be seen dancing in his cassock and holding a puja thali (plate) and clapping during the aarti.
A section of the community has objected to the priest’s dancing as well. “What I didn’t like is that he was wearing a cassock and dancing. Even during the puja ritual, he is in a cassock. No one would have noticed if he was wearing regular clothes and participating,” said Melwyn Fernades, secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics. “How can the priests preach one thing and practice the opposite?” he asked.
“Just because I participated in the ritual doesn't mean my religion has changed,” Fr. Crispino said, stressing there will always be some fundamentalists stuck on rules.
“For me, what is important is the heart of the law and the reason why it exists. Performing aarti is a sign of respect and brings a lot of people together and I don’t see anything wrong in it,” Fr. Crispino said.
“No matter what you do, someone will have something negative to say,” he concluded, in response to critics.
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