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Preserving Indigenous Faiths: Assam’s Endeavor for Cultural Sustainability

In a compelling address on January 28, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma voiced his concern over the gradual erosion of indigenous faiths in the region due to missionary activities. Emphasizing the adverse impact on cultural heritage and the unique belief systems of various communities, Sarma announced the creation of the Indigenous and Tribal Faith and Culture Department in Assam.

The primary objective of this newly established department is to provide financial support to indigenous communities, minimize external influences leading to conversions, and foster respect for the rich tapestry of indigenous tribes and their cultural heritage. Sarma underscored the importance of preserving these diverse faiths within the cultural landscape of Assam and, by extension, India.

The Chief Minister’s impassioned plea took place at the inauguration of a yoga and naturopathy research center, organized by the International Center for Cultural Studies. Addressing the theme of “Shared Sustainable Prosperity,” Sarma highlighted the global challenges faced by indigenous faiths and stressed the significance of drawing upon the wisdom embedded in these traditions.

Sarma emphasized that indigenous faiths go beyond mere religious practices; they serve as repositories of wisdom that connect communities with nature. Reflecting on the diverse indigenous faiths practiced in Assam, such as Bodo, Mising, Karbi, Sonowal, and others, the Chief Minister noted their deep-rooted connection with spirituality and the environment.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, who opposed mass conversions, Sarma highlighted the importance of unity among faiths and urged individuals to seek spiritual fulfillment within their own traditions. He commended the International Center for Cultural Studies for its efforts in revitalizing ancient traditions and fostering global collaboration.

The Chief Minister called for a shared responsibility in preserving indigenous faiths, emphasizing that the majority community bears a greater responsibility. Sarma expressed hope that the insights shared at the conference would pave the way for a future that nurtures traditions, preserves ecosystems, and embraces indigenous faiths.

As Assam takes a proactive step in safeguarding its cultural diversity, the creation of the Indigenous and Tribal Faith and Culture Department signals a commitment to the preservation of indigenous traditions. The state’s leadership envisions a future where the rich tapestry of cultural identities remains intact, contributing to a harmonious coexistence of diverse communities.

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