Assam CM defends move to create indigenous faith department

Preaching and professional management system of mainstream religions have threatened tribal beliefs and cultural practices, he says

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday defended the State government’s move to create a department for preserving indigenous faiths that were “fading away” due to “preaching and professional management systems” of mainstream religions.

Replying to a Zero Hour notice in the State Assembly regarding the creation of the department, the Chief Minister said time, modernity and global religious communities had taken a toll on tribal cultures, practices, languages, livelihoods and faiths in Assam.

“The mandate of the new department to be put under the joint control of the directorates of Archaeology, Museum and History and Antiquarian Studies will be to interact with the tribal people, study the folklores, customs and practices for ensuring these are not forgotten,” he said.

Nature worship defined the tribal faiths who conveyed the message of conservation to the world beyond.

“If we [from the mainstream religions] did not think of ourselves as adhering to superior belief systems and the tribal people could have retained their faiths, we could have addressed environmental issues the world is facing today,” he said.

“Sadly, the vicissitudes of time, modernity and global religious communities have threatened the tribal belief systems. Temples of Sanskritised communities, churches of Christians and mosques of Muslims came up. The onslaught of religious preaching and professional management systems gradually made the indigenous faiths vanish,” the Chief Minister said.

He also alluded to the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhist statues in Afghanistan to underscore how mainstream religions cut off people from their roots.

The indigenous faith and culture department would be allotted ₹100-crore in the first year. The government hoped to increase the fund subsequently, he said.

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