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Rev. J. Hawksworth is an important missionary who converted slaves to Christianity at Mallappally in 1854. Rev. Norton, Rev. Peet, Rev. George Mathan and Rev. Hawksworth did all what they could do in establishing educational institutions for the slaves and lower castes in Travancore. They were faced with resistance from upper-caste Hindus and Syrian Christians. In his diary entry, Rev. Hawksworth mentions an incident related to arson in a slave school. Converted slaves gathered there on a Sunday for worship. The Syrian Christians opposed this. They burnt the school/church several times. Each time the converted ones resurrected it and they declared that the caste Christians could destroy their church but never the church in their hearts.

Ganesh, in his relief work brings this incident back in a sculptural narrative. The tilted door of the building with a cross on its panel represents the Sunday Church. On the right side of the panel the viewers witness the number of people gathered there to burn it down while a man in the foreground wails his heart out. On the left side of the panel, under the raging flames, there are men running to bring help to extinguish fire. The man whose fist is tightened in defiance is the focus of the relief and he seems to be declaring his independence and faith in Church, which cannot be burnt down by their hatred.

Published On: January 27th, 2024Categories: Relief Sculpture

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