Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma defends the decision to create indigenous faith and cultural department
The Assam cabinet has decided to create a new department-the Department of Indigenous Faith and Culture to protect and preserve the crumbling cultures and faiths of the indigenous communities.
Himanta Biswa Sarma, the Chief Minister of Assam defended this decision saying, “ “We need to preserve and protect them. The very purpose of the new department is to preserve them.”
According to Sarma the faiths traditions and cultures Karma Puja of the Adivasis, Bathou Puja of the Bodos, and the Tea Tribes of the indigenous communities of the state are fading away due to preaching and professional management systems of mainstream religions and it is necessary to protect them.
Answering to a Zero Hour notice in the State Assembly regarding the creation of the Department of Indigenous Faith and Culture, Sarma 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.
Sarma strongly believes that these tribal communities and their culture should be preserved, hence directorates of Antiquarian Studies, Archaeology, and Museum and History will interact with the tribal communities, understand their practices, beliefs, and folklores.
The Department of indigenous faith and culture would be allotted ₹100-crore in the first year and from thereon the government would increase the funds gradually.
Nature worship defines the tribal faiths that conveyed the message of conservation to the rest of the world. Most ethnic communities in Assam are believers of animism, though some, over the years, may have turned to the dominant religion in their respective areas.
He also said that those from the mainstream religions did not think of themselves adhering to the superior belief system and the tribal people could have to retain their faiths and it has become important to address the environmental issues the world is facing currently.
“Sadly, the vicissitudes of time, modernity and global religious communities have threatened the tribal belief systems, adding to that he also said, “ 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.”
Assam has tribes like Boro, Koch, Tiwa, and many others which follow unique customs and religious beliefs and the government decided to preserve their faith and culture with institutional support through the establishment of this new department.
He also implied that the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhist statues in Afghanistan was an example of how mainstream religions cut off people from their cultural roots.