The directorate is expected to kick-start the process of preserving indigenous faiths.
The Assam Cabinet has approved the creation of a directorate and posts under the newly-established Indigenous Faith and Culture Department that was notified a month ago.
The directorate is expected to kick-start the process of preserving indigenous faiths such as Bathou of the Bodo community and Heraka of the Zeme Naga community, considered to be endangered because of conversions to mainstream religions.
In July, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced the decision to create a department for the preservation and promotion of indigenous faiths and cultures.
He had said such a department would not be tagged with other departments such as Culture or Welfare of Plains Tribes and Backward Classes.
“Assam has many tribes with their unique customs and religious beliefs. We have decided to preserve their culture and faith with institutional support through this new department,” he had observed.
“Indigenous faiths need insulation as they are fading away due to the preaching and professional management systems of mainstream religions. Modernity and global religious communities have taken a toll on tribal cultures, practices, languages, livelihoods and faiths in Assam,” he had stated.
Department in Arunachal
Assam is not the first State in the Northeast to come up with such a department. Arunachal Pradesh had formed the Department of Indigenous Affairs five years ago to insulate the indigenous faiths perceived to be threatened by conversion.
In August 2017, the Arunachal Pradesh Cabinet approved the establishment of the Department of Indigenous Faith and Cultural Affairs.
However, the name was changed to Department of Indigenous Affairs following protests from the Arunachal Christian Forum that said the government was targeting Christians by creating the department.
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