Christian converts cease to be Indians

Durban, South Africa - A Hindu religious leader in South Africa has caused a storm within the Indian community by saying that those who convert to Christianity will "lose their right to be Indian".

Thillayvel Naidoo, an executive member of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha and a Tamil linguist, made the remarks after a Christian convert, Deena Muthen, urged people to maintain their language and culture even if they convert.

Muthen, who is now a pastor practising in the large Indian-dominated residential township of Chatsworth in Durban, told his congregation that they should be proud of their rich language and culture.

But Naidoo said Muthen's comments were "tricks" to entice gullible people to convert to Christianity.

"Those who reject their religion lose the right to be completely Indian. He (Muthen) is distracting people with his Tamil preaching and hymns. Just because he preaches in Tamil does not mean anything, and I condemn it," he said.

However, Muthen, a former Hindu priest, rejected the assertion saying he made the comments because there was hunger for Indian culture and language among Indian Christians.

"I have been urging churches to become more culturally involved. People desire to know their heritage, and we can teach them Tamil. There is a lack of knowledge among Christian Indians, but this does not mean that we are not Indian or less than Indian," he said.