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Hindus protest British Christmas stamp


LONDON (RNS) - Britain's 700,000-member Hindu community is protesting a Christmas stamp just issued by the Royal Mail that shows Nativity figures with Hindu marks on their foreheads.

The stamp, a reproduction of a 1620 painting from the Mughal Empire, offers an Indian version of the Holy Family, with the figures of what are presumably Joseph and Mary bearing Hindu marks on their foreheads.

This, according to Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, is "insensitive and inappropriate" at a time when conversion is a very contentious issue in India. Christian missionaries there have been accused of "inappropriate" use of Hindu dress and customs amid charges of forced conversions.

The Royal Mail series of six Christmas stamps - the first since 2000 to have a religious theme - went on sale Nov. 1. They were intended to celebrate the multiculturalism of modern Britain, with European, Haitian, Italian, Indian, Native American and Aboriginal Australian depictions of the Madonna and child.