Jesus portrayed as Indian in mega Bible show
KERALA, Jan 27, 2017–A two-hour stage show premiered in India’s Kerala state recently depicting Jesus as Indian, thus correcting European Christianity’s “misrepresentation” of Christ, according to the director.
The show, titled Ente Rakshakan (“My Savior”), was created by a well-known showman Soorya Krishna Moorthy. It presents Jesus Christ as having black hair, eyes and Indian mannerisms. An audience of 2,000 people, including church officials and Bible scholars, attended the premier.
“Presenting Christ as an Asian is not an act of artistic imagination but a statement of truth. Christ was not only born in Asia but his spirituality is from the region. The West hijacked his image and presented him as a European,” Moorthy said.
The show portrays Eastern aspects in the life of Christ, comparing him to Hindu gods, especially Lord Krishna, who was also born in a cattle-shed, according to myth. The show also has several references to Hindu religious texts and uses Sanskrit verses to deepen the feeling of and Indian ambience.
Moorthy said that no-one, including bishops, had questioned the presentation of Christ as an Asian. On the contrary, many appreciated it. However, the artist does not expect any move from the church to reposition Christ as Asian.
“I do not think that the Europeans will agree to correct the misrepresentation of Christ. But I am sure that Christians at least in Asia will be happy to bear the Asian heritage of Christ in their mind,” he added.
The show suggests that Jesus spent some years in India without making any direct references. Moorthy said he had consciously avoided explicit such references as he did not want to create a controversy.
Father Paul Thelakat, editor of Catholic publication, Sathyadeepam (“lamp of truth”), said there was nothing wrong with presenting Christ as Asian. “If Western Christianity can shape itself with Greek philosophy, we can do the same thing with Indian thought,” he said.
The show sticks to the gospel narrative but depicts Jesus’ miracles in a more metaphorical light.
For example, Jesus faces the audience when raising Lazarus from the dead. This can be interpreted as a direct appeal to the people to rise from their slumber. Similarly, the scene in which Christ gives sight to a blind man is a call to human beings to open their inner eyes and get enlightened.
“The care and effort invested in realizing this work calls for the highest commendation. Every artist and technician in the work deserves unalloyed praise,” said George Onakoor, retired professor of Malayalam literature.
The mega-show uses an 800-square meter stage, 200 artists and 50 animals. Some 20 sponsors from India and the Middle East funded the US$160,000 budget.
The producers of the show plan to stage it in other towns in Kerala over the coming months. Moorthy said they would need at least 20 trucks to transport the set and re-assemble it at other venues. (UCAN)