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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Arunachal Pradesh Government focuses on indigenous culture and traditions

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu is dedicated to preserve, promote and protect the indigenous cultures of Arunachal Pradesh.

A 15-day workshop of the priesthood was organized by the Directorate of Indigenous Affairs (DIA), Arunachal Pradesh. The directorate was established with the sole aim of preserving and promoting the culture and heritage of the indigenous communities which Khandu said is the identity of the state and its pride.

“Our culture is our roots. If roots are not protected and made stronger trees will not survive”, the East Mojo report quotes the Arunachal CM as saying. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu Monday assured that the state government is committed to supporting the preservation of indigenous culture, which he said is the identity of the state and its pride. “Hence, for our communities to survive, culture has to be preserved,” he further pointed out.

He highly appreciated DIA for organizing the workshop on the priesthood. He said the institution of the priesthood is an integral part of indigenous culture.

“For centuries, we depend on our local priests for every ritual – be it at birth, death, sickness, disasters, or even construction of a house. Every auspicious occasion revolves around the priests. I commend the department for organizing the workshop and believe that it would play a pivotal role in reviving the very important institution,” said Khandu.

The major reasons for diminishing of priesthood are the lesser use of native languages.

“Without a written script, almost all our native languages are only spoken and passed on orally. With modern education and exposure, the younger generation is getting away from their native tongues and this has become a major concern for us,” he pointed out.

He appealed to the elders to teach their young ones their native language and urged them to speak in their native language at least at home.

“Our languages are the connection to our culture. If language is lost, a wealth of cultural heritage will be lost,” Khandu said.

He confirmed that the Government of Arunachal Pradesh will give assistance to researchers and academicians to develop scripts for the native dialects spoken in the state.

He also instructed the Education Department of Arunachal Pradesh to introduce textbooks for pre-primary level classes on its people and culture.

“We must take pride in our indigenous culture and work for its preservation in the face of modernization and global exposure,” he said.

Khandu said Bharat is a secular country and every individual is free to follow any religion that he or she likes. So he asked the followers of indigenous faith not to compete with followers of other faith.

In Arunachal Pradesh, many indigenous community members are changing to other faiths. In this regard, the Chief Minister said, “Instead of blaming others, we must introspect. If someone is changing his or her faith, we need to introspect what made him or her do so. Maybe the lacunae are within us or in our customs.”

The President of the “Priest Association of Arunachal Pradesh” submitted a memorandum to the government for priest’s allowance.

Khandu assured allowance would be provided to the priests. He gave directions to the Directorate on this matter. The Directorate will determine how the priest allowance can be reimbursed.

DIA was assigned to construct prayer halls and other infrastructure for the practice and promotion of indigenous faiths, promoting local languages and scripts to codify practices and rituals of indigenous faiths, and conduct programs and certificate courses for priests of these faiths.

The department has decided to conduct certificate courses on priesthood and offer scholarships and incentives to the tribal youths who aspire to become a priest said Indigenous and Cultural Affairs minister Taba Tedir.

The department also decided to publish literature on indigenous folklore and traditions, sponsor traditional medicinal plants and healing systems, promote indigenous games and manage welfare schemes for priests.

“This active promotion and state patronage of indigenous faiths like Donyi-Polo will stave off the onslaught of the Christian missionaries and result in bringing back converts to the tribal fold. These steps will instill pride among our youth for our ancient faiths and practices and will thus prevent them from falling to the material allurements of missionaries,” said Tajom Tasung, President of the Indigenous Faith & Cultural Society Of Arunachal Pradesh (IFCSAP) (see the Society’s Facebook page).

According to IFCSAP General Secretary Bai Taba conversions to Christianity is a major problem in Arunachal Pradesh. The Government’s recent move and actions on preserving indigenous cultures will definitely cater to this serious problem.

“Practices like animal sacrifices and obscurantist practices are being junked and tribal youth are being encouraged to propagate the indigenous faiths”, said Khomseng Khomrang, a religious leader of Rangfraa faith (that practices animism). Khomrang is dedicatedly working towards the integration of indigenous faiths like Donyi-Polo, Amik-Matai, Nani-Intaya, and Rangfraa.

The Central Government’s eagle-eyed approach on the inflow of foreign funds has hindered the Evangelism of Christian Missionaries. Coupled with that is the fightback from the tribals which have put the missionaries in a state of quandary. These factors have augered well for Arunachal Pradesh.

(Featured Image Source: East Mojo)

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