The Jehovah’s Witness community, who are in the focus after a terror attack on their convention in Kochi last month killed five people, will be holding meetings in Mumbai during the next two weekends.
The meetings, titled ‘Exercise Patience’ will be held at Birla Matushri Hall, Churchgate, and Center Park Lawn, Mira Road, between November 17 and 19 and from November 24 to 26.
The group, an evangelist Christian sect founded in the United States in 1870, holds regular conventions at cities across the world, but the covid pandemic interrupted the tradition, and the in-person events were replaced by virtual events. “As much as we loved the convenience and quality of our virtual conventions, nothing can replace being together in a large group setting,” said Norman D’Souza, spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, in a press statement. “While our online conventions reached millions around the world and kept our communities safe, we long to get back to our joyful fellowships at these large gatherings.”
The Kochi gathering, one such meeting, was hit by a series of explosions on October 29 which killed five people and injured dozens. A former disgruntled member of the sect, Dominic Martin, was arrested after he admitted in a Facebook video that he had planted several Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) at the meeting. In his post, Martin said that the sect was ‘anti-national’ and that he had tried unsuccessfully to change their views. “I am taking full responsibility for this,” Martin said in his video. “I carried out the bomb explosion. I am making this video to make it clear why I did this.”
In India, the Jehovah's Witnesses, who number between 50,000 and 60,000, have made news for their controversial beliefs – they have refused medical treatments that involve blood donations and their refusal to sing the national anthem or salute the country's flag because they do not believe in nation states, but in the ‘kingdom of god’.
Though they are counted as a Christian sect they do not share features like a clergy, church or symbol like crucifixes and images. The group does not have priests and religious leadership is provided by a 'Body of Elders'. In Mumbai, the community has centres, called 'Kingdom Halls' in Santa Cruz, Vikhroli and Mira Road and Ghatkopar.
The group has announced that 6000 meetings will be held this year as part of the ‘Exercise Patience’ series, out of which 72 will be in India. The theme of the meetings will explained through examples from the religious scriptures, said the group. “Patience is a beautiful quality that everyone deserves to display in their daily lives. Despite our good intentions, however, maintaining patience in the face of life’s many challenges can be a daily struggle. Spending three days exploring aspects of this quality will be very timely for all of us,” said the press statement.