By Pramod Kumar
?If there were no Vanvasis, Rama would not have become Lord Rama and remained merely King Rama. It is a good sign for the future of the country that with the efforts of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Vanvasis are aware and united and are determined to save their culture and identity. History is witness to Vanvasis always working towards enhancing glory of Mother India. Apart from blessing all of you, I congratulate the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for untiting the whole Hindu society by creating organisations like Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram,? said Shankracharya of Jyotishmath, Swami Vasudevananda Saraswati. He was speaking at the concluding ceremony of Kalyan Ashram'sfive-day national convention in Delhi on October 10. He said all people were children of Bharatmata and it was the political leaders who divided the people into Vanvasis, gramvasis or nagarvasis for their political gain.
Earlier, over 3000 Vanvasis dressed in their traditional attire, marched through the streets of Delhi raising slogans Bharatmata ki jai, nagarvasi, gramvasi, vanvasi, ham sab hain Bharatvasi, stop conversion, etc.
Shri Jagdevram Oraon, president of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram said that Vanvasis had been fighting for the protection of their identity in every phase of history since ancient times. ?They never compromised on their self-respect. The news that Vanvasis are adopting Christianity is baseless. Initially, there were some incidents of conversion, but now even those who had converted are coming back to their original roots,? he said. The function was presided over by Shri Bhuvan Mohan, secretary Banarasi Das Sewa Smarak Trust. Shri Moren Singh Purti, Roop Singh Bhil, Dr Prasnna Sapre and Shri Satyanarayan Bansal also shared the dais.
The Kalyan Ashram honoured seven prominent Vanvasi personalities for their outstanding contribution in preserving Vanvasi culture and spreading awareness. They include renowned Boro writer and poet Dr Mangal Singh Hazawari, famous literary person of Santhali, Babulal Murmu, Bikram Bahadur Jamatia of Tripura, Chaitram Pawar, famous archer Naresh Damor and N.C. Zeliang of Nagaland.
Talking to Organiser, S.D. Lepcha of Sikkim said that the increase in Muslim population was posing a new danger to the peace-loving people of Sikkim. Smt. Binita Jigduing, who belongs to Dimasa community of Nagaland, said that the VKA helped to arouse nationalist feelings among the Nagas and their new generation was getting quality education in Kalyan Ashram schools. ?Kalyan Ashram has shown us light. It has made us capable to fight against not only the onslaughts on our culture and identity but also improved our economic status. It has brought all the 17 Vanvasi communities of the state on to one platform,? said Hingchube Zeliang of Nagaland, where Kalyan Ashram is working in seven of the 11 districts. ?We have won the confidence of the people, including Christians. Whenever there is any problem, local people stand by us. We help and encourage local organisations. There are a number of Christians who want to save their Naga culture now,? said Shri Jagdamba Mall, who has been working in Nagaland for about two decades.
Shri Rijoy Singh Khangshah, who belongs to Seng Khasi organisation in Meghalaya, wants immediate attention of the Central Government to be given to the new conversion danger posed by the Muslims. He said about one lakh Bangladeshi infiltrators, who had entered the state as labourers, were marrying the local girls and converting them into Islam.
Ratan Kherkatarya, who belongs to Boro Janjati of Barpeta district in Assam, said that conversion had stopped but the threat to their culture and identity continued unabated due to Bangladeshi infiltration. ?After 25 years of working, Vanvasis in Tripura today feel that it is their own organisation,? admitted Shri Mangalpad of Tripura. There are 45 tribal communities in 14 districts of Kerala and Kalyan Ashram works with 18 and is in contact with 23 other communities. They are facing three major problems?conversion, alcoholism and education.