Prior to watching the movie Parzania, I was aware that religious conflicts exist in India, but I was not  aware of the extent of how divided religious communities are in India. For those not familiar with the film, Parzania is a movie based on a true story of a young Parsi boy named Azhar Mody who disappeared during the 2002 Gujarat riots. It was not until watching and discussing the movie Parzania that I realized that conflicts are much more complicated as well as hostile. In addition, I learned from class that religious riots have plagued Indian society for many years. It begs the question why communities still continue to fight even after all the bloodshed and pain.  Parzania showed the family’s pain and suffering during the Gujarat riots. All I could think was how unimaginable and unbearable the pain must have been to witness and experience such chaos.

After watching the movie Parzania, I have become more familiar with religious conflicts in India. However, I have yet to understand how a peacebuilder can bring rival religious groups together in order to create peace or hope that the communities can learn to at least tolerate one another.  Parzania reminded me of the controversy around another film called “My Name is Khan”. The movie addresses  the issues of being muslim in America. “My Name is Khan” is about Rizwan Khan, a muslim adult with autism, who experiences racism in the United States after 9-11. The movie shows Rizwan’s journey to meet the President of the United States in order to tell him that “He is not a terrorist.” Even though this film does not discuss religious conflicts in India, it was the reception of this film that I first learned about the religious conflicts that exist in India. When the filmed was released in India back in 2010, I remember reading news articles about how there were protests around this film. There were many Indians who disliked the main actor, Shah Rukh Khan, for being muslim but loved him for being Indian. I then learned that there was a deep division between Muslim Indians and Hindu Indians. Personally, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would hate another because of their religion, but, from what I understand, the religious conflicts have existed for many years and unfortunately continue to this day. From watching the Parzania film, I did not know that the Gujarat riots were planned.

In addition, to the films, these movies also reminded me of two different experiences: one when I was in Nigeria and the other is a personal experience of being Catholic in the United States. First, when I was in Nigeria working on a medical nonprofit project, I was aware that there was a divide between the Muslims and Christians. However, I did not realize the animosity between both groups. While in Nigeria, it was impossible to have a discussion about religion. Anyone who was Christian or Muslim would automatically refer to the other religion as “evil” and that would be the end of discussion.  I also learned from individuals living in Nigeria that the violence between both communities is only getting worse and that there will never be peace between Muslims and Christians.  Second, being Catholic in the United States can be complicated to say the least. I have had “personal conflicts” with Christians treating me poorly because I am Catholic. It also can be tiresome whenever I am in a group setting and so many Christians start insulting Catholics and the Catholic Church. Even though I did not experience any physical violence, I realize that religious conflicts can easily exist in the United States like anywhere else in the world. Also, sometimes I wonder why anyone would want to follow any religion, because it almost seems better to be an atheist or agnostic.

Overall, the film Parzania was an eye opener and important to show. I just hope religion can one day stop being the reason for such misery.