This could be a plotline out of a movie starring former Indian film actress Christina Srinivasan. But instead it’s her life story, with Christ entering mid-plot.
Born Mahalakshmi Srinivasan in Chennai, India, to a Hindu Brahmin family, she had a comfortable upbringing. Brahmins are traditionally teachers and priests and among the highest caste in Indian society, and the Srinivasan family was a prominent one.
Srinivasan started acting at the age of 13 on her father’s prompting, taking the stage name Mohini. She has appeared in over 100 films, mostly in the South Indian film industry, and became well known as an actress.
Srinivasan married her husband, Bharath, in 1999, and they had a son, Aniruddh, now 17, soon afterward. She continued to act, and all seemed well with her life on the surface.
The family moved for a few years to Washington, D.C., for Bharath’s work. But the couple’s marriage began to struggle. Srinivasan had health issues, depression and trouble adjusting to being away from India. She ascribes it to black magic with which a relative of Bharath’s cursed her.
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“There are many ways of inflicting evil in today’s world,” she said. “There are different mediums that the devil is using.”
The couple decided to move back to India but continued to struggle with their marriage.
Srinivasan was searching for something. She read more about her own Hindu faith and about Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism and Islam. After picking up a Bible, she began exploring Christianity, going to various denominational churches.
“Something was missing in all of these places,” she said.
Eventually she visited Catholic churches.
Conversion From Hinduism to Christianity
In 2006, two months after starting to attend Mass and in between shooting movies, she went on a retreat weekend at the Divine Retreat Center in Kerala, a charismatic retreat facility run by the Vincentian Congregation of India.
The first night of the retreat, a religious sister gave a talk, and “the way this nun explained about the body and blood of Jesus, I was just completely floored,” Srinivasan recounted. “And I said, ‘OK, Lord, I’m not going home without you.’”
The next morning she asked the retreat center’s priest to be baptized. The priest checked with the basilica’s rector where Srinivasan had been going to Mass and interviewed her further before agreeing. She received the sacraments of initiation and took the baptismal name Christina.
Her husband, Bharath, was fine with her conversion. In fact he was relieved, she joked, that he would no longer have his Hindu practices policed by his wife, since Srinivasan had been a stickler for Hindu rituals and traditions.
“He said as a Hindu I was like a math teacher,” she chuckled.
Bharath’s parents had a more difficult time with her change in faith. As the eldest daughter-in-law, they thought she should be setting an example for the rest of the family. Both Bharath’s and Srinivasan’s families could trace their Hindu roots back almost to the founding of Hinduism.
“Given the larger Hindu culture and religion that is so prevalent in India, her acceptance of Christianity and Catholicism meant that she was really embracing a huge risk — dangers even — in her conversion,” said Father Kevin Duggan, pastor of Mary, Queen of Peace Parish in Sammamish, where Srinivasan is now a parishioner.
But Srinivasan found that she could talk for hours to anybody who asked about her conversion. She wore her crucifix and rosary prominently.
“I think it’s important to share Jesus with everybody. Because you can’t be selfish about it,” she said. “So I think Jesus needs to be spoken about more, not only for your own good, not to prove a point, but to bring healing into others’ lives.”
About her conversion, Mohini has this to say:
I am an Bollywood movie actress by profession and have acted over 100 movies. My movie name is Mohini. After I crossed path with JESUS CHRIST, I think there is nothing more important at these times than reinstating faith in people by sharing what Christ did for me. I have been active for the last 10 years witnessing Christ in places needed the most. The highlight of my highly spoken about conversion is, I came “To Jesus through Mary”.
I believe in sharing everything what Jesus has showed me and taught me through this Catholic, Apostolic and true church of Jesus Christ. I am amazed at this true faith as a convert from being born as a “Brahmin” a high priestly caste in Hinduism. Not only it is crystal clear as to what is idolatry, but also how people are duped into thinking the idols are true Gods !!! After reading various Hindu manuscripts and searching for God in all the empty places, a dream after reading the first few chapters in the bible, a dream of Christ changed my life forever. Healings from, arthritis, spondylosis, black magic, spells in this one true church has only fueled me further to become a Catholic preacher and a trained prayer minister.