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Wed, 08 Apr 2020

Northeast Today

Culture and religion distinct aspects of life

Culture and religion distinct aspects of life
February 26
11:31 2020

Tana Tahin

Culture and religion are two distinct aspects of life. If culture symbolizes identity of human beings; religion is a social-cultural system of behaviors and practices, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics or organizations that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental or spiritual elements.

Arunachal Pradesh is a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual state and its people have been practicing numerous but unique cultures since time immemorial. Thus, it is disheartening to hear some people resenting against missionaries for blaming them for diluting culture of indigenous people.

I as a Christian believe that Nyokum is a cultural festival just like Pongal of Tamil Nadu or Onam of Kerala having deep rooted religious and cultural values. All belonging to those areas celebrate such festivals with traditional gaiety as festivals are also symbol of identity.

Pope Francis while speaking about culture and language, encourage the missionaries to preserve local culture and he wrote in his book – Joy of the Gospel – all pastors and leaders of catholic churches should have “smell of the sheep”. His expression meant: It is advisable to be immersed in cultural ethos of local people where the missionary works to encourage and support cultural heritage of local people. The essence of teaching of Jesus is love of God and love of neighbor, irrespective of which religion one belongs to. This reflects fusion of culture and religion.

New Testament printed first in Assamese by Rev. William Carey in 1813 and finest Assamese grammar by American missionary Rev. Nath Brown in 1846 are great contributions to literature are best examples.

I, as a student of Doimukh, heard about enthusiastic celebration of Nyokum Yullo in St. Xaviers School at Harmuty during 1986-87 under Fr. C.C. Jose. The first Nyishi cassette Ewju lvla (Ejii Lella) sung by late Tasser Teshi and Nabam Bijnu and produced by Fr. Jose in 1985 while another audio cassette Ngulug Ab, sung by Nabam Bijnu & Taba Yal and produced by Fr. Sebastian TJ in 1992.

I know two missionaries, Fr. C.C. Jose and Fr. Sebastian T.J. hailing from Kerala, who had worked for over 30 years for the welfare of the Nyishis. The duo fluent in Nyishi dialect had set up many schools and hostels while Fr. T.J was the first to make a grammar book for Nyishi students in English whose forward was written by Dr. Joram Begi, who himself had released the book in 1994.

Fr. Sebastian had also developed a prayer book in Nyishi and translated New Testament into Nyishi, released in 2013. I think these are tangible expressions of love for the language and culture of the people.

Therefore, we all indigenous people should make all out efforts to preserve the culture through all possible ways being our identity. The Nyishis irrespective of their religions should celebrate Nyokum Yullo proudly without any discrimination for its survival for posterity as it aims at greater welfare of the humanity.

I wish Happy Nyokum Yullo to one and all!


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