The village of Kesalingayapalli in Andhra Pradesh, located about 35 KM from the Kadapa district in the state has proudly declared itself to be “Hindu only”, by erecting a saffron board at the village’s entrance. This proclamation was made by the villagers on last year’s Ram Navami, or on the Ram Navami prior to that if a TheNewsMinute report is to be believed.
The erected board adorned with “Jai Sri Ram” message on its either side reads that, the village is solely comprised of Hindus, thus any attempt to campaign and preach other religions is strictly prohibited. Violating this would result in strict action being taken against them. The board also warns against religious conversions by claiming that changing one’s religion amounted to “changing one’s own mother”.
The village home to about 250 families, took a decision to make such a proclamation after over the years Christian evangelists came to the village and tried to convert the villagers to their religion by promising money and medicine. As per village elder B Ramana, the villagers were being lured under the pretext of getting their diseases cured if they prayed to Jesus.
Some people were indeed converted to Christianity and as per the village elder, they were taken to a renowned seer, who helped bring them back to Hinduism.
The villagers initially warded the evangelists away, but they kept coming back thus, the “warning board” was erected. As a result of past experiences, Christian evangelists are especially prohibited from entering and preaching in the village.
As per Ramana, if the aforementioned rules were violated, the religious preachers are paraded around the village and are sent away after being repeatedly made to chant “Jai Sri Ram”. They are also encouraged to debate on religious conversions.
The demography of the village too is almost completely Hindu, comprising of Kapurs, Balijas, Scheduled Castes and other classes. Reports claim that no Christians or Muslims live in the village.
The saffron board at the village’s entrance isn’t the only proclamation of the Hindu nature of the village. Saffron flags are also seen adorning various shops inside the village. Kesalingayapalli also boasts of two major temples namely Gangamma Devalayam and Ramalayam. The village also boasts of a Bhajan singing troupe which regularly visits Tirupati and participates in Bhajanamandali competitions.
As a result, they have grown close to an organisation associated with the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, which helps restore the village’s temples. The organisation also distributed the Bhagwat Gita among the villagers who now read it in the temple for about 90 minutes.
The villagers have also been encouraged to distribute copies of the Gita in neighbouring villages, and they supposedly have been happy to oblige.