I was fortunate enough to visit different parts of the state as I was involved in research project under the Department of Arunachal Pradesh. I was fascinated by the hospitality of the simple and straightforward people. Some of these experiences touched my mind and brain heavily. It was sad to see how they were about to lose their rich culture by abandoning their own religion. I could feel how the locals have become disconnected from their roots after they stopped celebrating traditional festivals associated with their religion and culture. Many of the victims told us that they had converted to a foreign religion (Christianity) and burnt their religious and cultural objects at the instigation of that religion.
Whenever I visiting various parts of the North East that were victims of Christian conversion many of those who can never give up the importance of their religion helplessly admitted an important fact that the majority of converts are imprisoned in the hope of receiving government benefits. I had already heard this being discussed in different parts of India but even in reality I understood the depth of the issue. I have done some reading in this context and tried to share some things with the readers.
Janajati people now understand how they are being converted in the name of education and health services. The initiation of armed insurrection in the name of conversion is even worse. The wide-ranging spread of Christianity in the North-East in the decades before and after independence was largely motivated and encouraged by the Church
Society and culture are two sides of the same coin. The conceptual understanding of culture as ‘part of the man-made environment’, more broadly the combination of artifacts (man-made products), agrifacts (farm produce), societies (social organisations, social institutions) and mentfacts (religious institutions) includes morality, law, society, and any other habits acquired as members of that particular society.’ Folklore part of Culture refers to oral literature (intangible) often referred to as ‘oral art’ material culture (tangible materials), social folk customs (includes all rituals associated with birth, puberty, marriage and death ceremonies); and folk art performances (folk songs, dances and drama are also regarded as intangible heritage).
It exists in the context of society such as various aspects Oral literature such as various prose narratives that depict myths, legends, stories, faith narratives, proverbs, wisdom-tales, folk songs, beliefs and beliefs, priests, chanting of oaths and mantras is another important aspect Each traditional group has some traditional knowledge holders, specialists in certain areas. They are Custodian of cultural heritage. Such experts and their work are useful for future generations. If we talk about Mizoram today, we will see that the traditional youth dormitory system of the Mizos disappeared due to the invasion of Christians. As a result, the age old knowledge system of the Mizos gradually disappeared. In other places where conversion has also occurred, Janajati people have moved away from their own culture and forgotten their identity. Therefore, people who believe in their own religion are facing difficult challenges including the dual benefits of constitution.
A government order of the State of Meghalaya was justified and validated by the High Court of Guwahati and later by the Supreme Court of India on the grounds that a (tribal) village head must perform both traditional ceremonies and administrative duties and a tribe converted to Christianity can’t do both of them together. (Ewanlangki-E-Rymbai vs Jaintia Hills District Council and Others-2006).
A study conducted by the Center for Policy Studies also established that tribals, especially converts to Christianity, have taken away the basic benefits of reservations meant for scheduled tribes despite the fact that they have eschewed their true tribal identity and adopted another faith and religious practice.
The Janajati people now understand how they are being converted in the name of education and health services. The initiation of armed insurrection in the name of conversion is even worse. The wide-ranging spread of Christianity in the North-East in the decades before and after independence was largely motivated and encouraged by the Church. The militant assertion of sub-national identities led to various movements that began in the region with the advent of independence.
Creating artificially constructed racial and ethnic divisions has been a time-tested tool for achieving the evangelical design of the church. In the process, every trace of indigenous culture has been eroded and eventually eliminated first by subtle means and if such means do not work violent methods have been resorted to. Coincidentally, starting in the mid-1980s and throughout the 1990s, when one hill state after another in the northeast fell under the influence of the Church, ethnic clashes broke out simultaneously for centuries between the various Vanbashi communities living here. The insurgency soon began to ravage the relatively peaceful states of Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.
The 1990s saw a new phenomenon in many parts of North-East India, with several ethnic communities taking up arms and raising demands for autonomy within the Indian Union. A greater number of armed militant groups means a greater flow of weapons and arms into the region. Its proximity to Myanmar is noteworthy in this context. In Manipur, a conflict broke out between the Kukis and Nagas on the one hand and the Kukis and Paites on the other. Mizoram was passing through a period of direct conflict between the newly converted Christian Mizos on the one hand and the Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Reang communities on the other.
Meanwhile, Tripura saw a conflict between the Vanvasi (‘Adivasi’) population on the one hand and the non-Vanvasi (non-tribal) population on the other, led by the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) which wanted to secede from India and the establishment of an independent Tripuri state. Aravindan Neelakandan in an article titled ‘Hindu Genocide’ in Tripura clearly writes that the Baptist Church of Tripura is not only the ideological patron of the NLFT, but also supplies arms and ammunition to the NLFT for the soldiers of the Holy Crusade. The religious institutions of Tripura’s Jamaatias, who have opposed Christian conversion, have been prime targets of the NLFT rebels. It is also clear who is behind the militant problems in Assam and Nagaland.
The public awareness against the way in which the seeds of Jesus are planted and forced to neglect their own religion (a religion that worships the sun, moon, mountains, rivers, etc.) is truly promising. There is now a strong public opinion among the Janajati people in favor of the ‘De-listing campaign’. This will surely enable the Janajati people suffering from existential crisis to find the right path.