Anyone who follows the news in India knows that “witchcraft” killings and persecutions in the rural areas of the country are a real problem. Now, in an effort to dispel superstitions, a team of Wiccans from Britain and India are heading to the eastern city of Kolkata in an effort to raise awareness and change the lives of the women suffering from these “witch-hunts”.
“In the past five years, police say they have reports of more than 700 women being killed as witches or witch doctors in eastern India alone. But the real figure could be many times higher, they say..Now, followers of the Wicca faith from the United States, Britain and India plan to introduce their religion in the eastern city of Kolkata to promote awareness of witchcraft and provide support for harassed witches…Around 100 people have already signed up to take a training program in Wiccan philosophy, literature and psychology and the students will also set up a grievance cell where persecuted women can register their complaints…In India, many witches practice the Dakini Vidya form of witchcraft, where women invoke the Mother Goddess to draw spiritual strength, a belief which has similarities to the Wicca faith in a Great Mother. In remote India, where literacy is low and lives are governed by superstition, villagers often persecute witches and blame them for natural disasters or for illness, death or theft in a village.”
Spearheading this campaign is social activist and Wiccan Ipsita Roy Chakraverti. Chakraverti has a long history of defending “witches” in India, but she has resisted calling for outside aid until now.
“People from different walks of life and even governments had asked me to institutionalize Wicca, but I was waiting for the right moment…Now is the time we stood up against people who persecute and kill innocent women…”
This story was reported earlier this week in India, but at the time it was being portrayed as a “study group”. Now it seems their is a larger social goal to their “brigade”. It should be interesting to see how well Wicca “takes” in India, and if their methods to reduce witch-slayings and persecutions will work. In any case this represents a new level of interaction between Hindus and modern Pagans.