Indigenous faith being bolstered by Transformation or Invaded by Delusion"?
By Jon Pebi Tato
The hullabaloos of surrendering of ST certificate have been brewing fumes of hostility among the brethren. The land of dawn-lit mountain, an epithet bestowed upon the state is not a long-gone history, It was just a way back in the 1970s when the then NEFA was renamed as Arunachal Pradesh.
The above description had nothing to do with the inhabitants of indigenous settlers in the 1970s or 80s or beyond. Those with pens knew but those with machetes and bamboo baskets focussed on their way of livelihood were hardly aware of it.
Historically a group of families might have transformed into clans, and the clans to ethnic tribes, but with the advent of education the tribals witnessed a transformation that brought in a paradigm shift in their culture and traditions,__"It brought in Education".
The education system in Arunachal Pradesh witnessed the realm of the world's two big religions viz Hinduism and Christianity. Both the religious institution left no stone unturned to educate, shape, inculcate, the education in their own ways, adding a touch of its religious beliefs.
When Rama Krishna Mission and VKV inculcated "Padavali's Bhajan recitations, & exercise of Hindu prayers, the Don Boscos taught the "Songs of Praise " and message from the Holi Bible.
The indigenous inhabitants had no option but to learn either of education because it was the need of the hour for having received the best education. This journey has been quite interesting, each of the students who passed out from each of the institutions, gave back the society based on what they learned. Their way to take the world's orders and knowledge reflected their roots of education.
Later on, some might have turned radical in their beliefs whereas some remain rational.
Those who received the education through Government schools were either free of thought or one or other way touched by the aforesaid two institutions' way of thought process, but rationalism did exist hitherto.
Now the baffling question which persists is that "Is the Indigenous faith being bolstered by Transformation or Invaded by Delusion"?
Mr.Pai Dawe claimed that allegations of the Christian or other religion on the indigenous side for delusion in the indigenous belief are totally wrong citing "Transformation" as the phenomenon which Dawe expressed that it has been the paramount natural thing which had occurred in every aspect since ages.
On the 1st December 2021, while celebrating the indigenous faith day, pamphlets were being distributed among the masses, which had a message in bold letters, "We Demand delisting of converted persons from scheduled tribe list"
The bellows of surrendering of ST certificate started a long way back but past few years it has accelerated in an immense manner.
The coverage of indigenous faith day was done by many electronic media across the state, among which The SPACE, Seppa 360, and Voice Now garnered huge attention in the context of words addressed by the individuals on screen.
President NNMR, Er. Pai Dawe was heard stating, "The judgement delivered by the Supreme Court is clear, that a mere conversion of religion, won't lose his/her ST, but provided he or she continues to practice his traditions and culture"
"Jo apna tradition and culture ko denounce kartahe, dharam partivan ke baat, unkeliye hey yeh" Stated Dawe while reacting to the viral issue on surrender of ST.
"This is a transition period we must stop creating a realm of hostility among ourselves " spoke dawe to the Voice now channel.
However, in the Seppa 360, the individual was heard stating," No indigenous, No ST certificate"
Further, the Christian converts were slammed for being converted into a foreign religion & forgetting their own faith.
"We celebrate our Nyokum with our indigenous dress but those fail to adhere to it " alleged the individual in Seppa on 1st Dec 2021.
On the 19th of October 2021, the state capital of Arunachal Pradesh experienced a jolting, awe-inspiring, and outstanding conclave organized by the National People's Party unit of the state wherein this statement was brought in a short panel discussion viz Interplay of religion and Politics-evolving scenarios in Arunachal Pradesh, where representatives from both indigenous & Christianity came face-to-face on the stage.
"Transformation is an inevitable process" bellowed Pai Dawe who represented the indigenous forum.
Whereas, on the Christian side, Toko Teji who represented the forum didn't defend its stand much but rather adhere to rationality.
TRANSFORMATION & DELUSION
What is "transformation"? it means "completely change", or "act or process of changing", what is "Delusion"? it means, " a belief that is clearly false and that indicates an abnormality in the affected person's content of thought", in simple terms it means "a belief that is not a true or false idea"
Since the advent of two major religions viz Hindu and Christian, the indigenous culture and traditions had significant implications on its ethnicity. Everyone has their own way of interpreting, each has their own solid stand. However one cannot deny the fact that both the major religion of the world had largely touched the indigenous culture in a great manner.
The use of "Agarbathhi, Hindu bell, rope, Murti-Puja, etc" are all an intrinsic part of the Hindu rituals for ages, today the indigenous culture has adopted this way of practicing and praying to their God.
"Not celebrating Nyokum,-Mopin-Solung-etc," are all a behavior of foreigners and the Indigenous tribals have become more inclined towards the west"
When the indigenous faith believers are alleged of delusion in their ethnic practices, they say its Transformation & not delusion, similarly, when the Christians /Muslims are alleged for not celebrating their own festival, they claimed the word of God forbids them to do it, hence it is neither transformation nor delusion but spiritual reformation.
Talking about the preservation of culture and traditions, the indigenous believers claim that they have always been rooted in their culture & have taken measures for preservation.
Whereas, the Christian believers claim that since the advent of Christianity, the indigenous convert Christians have rather contributed in a much better way in taking the traditions ahead by wearing an ethnic dress in church, & in various occasions, the translation of the first bible of Arunachal Pradesh in ADI(Padam) from English (King James version) can be taken a huge milestone in preserving the language of ADI through the holy bible.
The recitation of songs of praise in local dialect has thought many indigenous masses how to sing, stand in front of gatherings, to be brave and smart as a society and a tribe, and to be overall educated with rational thoughts.
The indigenous faith believers have slammed these excerpts of Christianity as pseudo rationality, and rater tactics to lure the innocent indigenous tribal community.
They also slammed the word of God, by alleging the converts to have denounced their identity and ethnicity and bellowed for surrendering of their Schedule Caste Certificate.
What does the Supreme Court state?
In a major judgment on 8Feb 2004, the Supreme Court has ruled that a tribal, even after converting into another religion, would not lose his "scheduled tribe" status unless it is shown that he has given up his tribal customs and observing only those practised in the adopted religion.
"A member of a tribe despite his change in religion may remain a member of the tribe if he continues to follow the tribal traits and customs," a Bench comprising Chief Justice V N Khare, Justice S B Sinha and Justice S H Kapadia said in a recent judgement.
This judgement came in an unusual case where a person accused of outraging the modesty of a scheduled tribe girl questioned the police decision to charge him with SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities), Act. The accused contended that the family of the girl had converted into Christianity around 200 years back and were not following the tribal customs. Hence, they could not be classified as tribals, he alleged.
While remitting the matter to the trial court to take into account evidence in this regard, the Bench said "we are of the opinion that although as a broad proposition of law it cannot be accepted that merely by change of religion, a person ceases to be a member of the scheduled tribe, but the question as to whether he ceases to be a member, thereof, or not, must be determined by the appropriate court as such a question would depend upon the fact of each case.
Having read the aforesaid excerpts, a question yet persists viz"Is the Indigenous faith being bolstered by Transformation or Invaded by Delusion"?
Pawi Dawe clearly stated that this issue of Surredering of ST is not a big issue, however, it doesn't target only the Christian community but even to the Indigenous faith believers.
"Any indigenous individuals if they adhere to the originality of the ethnic culture & tradition shall be exempted from the surrendering of STs, but the converts shall face the wrath but is that converts only Christian and Muslims or Hindus? whereas the excerpts also have highlighted the practice of Hindu rituals in the Indigenous practice of tradition & cultures.
"Hum hindu hosaktai, Christian hosaktai, Muslim hosaktai, lekin humara tribal idenity ko koi nai chin sakai"_bellowed Toko Teki President ACF.
Indigenous faith and culture being bolstered by Transformation or invaded by Delusion, I shall leave this unto you, our esteemed readers.
"Rationality & Humanity among the brethren must prevail above all"
Jon Pebi Tato, Managing Editor, The SPACE media