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Indigenous Communities Of India "Target" Of Conversion Attempts: Himanta

Sarma was speaking at the inaugural session of the 8th International Conference and Gathering of Elders here, which will continue till February 1.

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PTI
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma Photo: PTI
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Indigenous communities of India have often become "target" of conversion attempts by mainstream religions, with individuals enticed through "temptation of material benefit", Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed on Sunday.

He urged younger generations to keep alive the indigenous faiths and religions, while also outlining the measures taken by his government in this regard.

Sarma was speaking at the inaugural session of the 8th International Conference and Gathering of Elders here, which will continue till February 1.

It has been organised by the International Centre for Cultural Studies (ICCS), a non-profit socio-cultural forum for spiritual masters of ancient traditions and cultures of the world.

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Emphasising the importance of indigenous faiths and culture globally as well as in India and Assam, which are home to several tribes and communities, Sarma said it is essential to preserve these age-old belief systems as these are integral to the country's cultural landscape.

"Unfortunately, indigenous communities in India often become the target of conversion efforts by mainstream religions. Missionary activities carried out by various religious groups can result in a decline of population who practise indigenous faith," the CM maintained.

He claimed that the "temptation of material benefit, education and healthcare benefits provided by missionary organisations influence individuals to convert".

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This leads to the gradual erosion of indigenous religious practises and decline in population following these faiths has an adverse impact on culture and practises, he added.

Sarma said it is the duty of the younger generations to abide by the indigenous faiths and practises as it is essential to preserve ancient wisdom passed down through generations.

He recalled the contributions of Mirsa Munda in this regard and also how Mahatma Gandhi had strongly opposed mass conversions, particularly those influenced by "external factors".

In order to preserve the indigenous faiths, the Assam government has created the Indigenous and Tribal Faith and Culture department, which is working round-the-clock towards this end, Sarma said.

"We are offering budgetary support to indigenous communities, trying to see external factors which influence conversion are minimised and promoting and creating respect for indigenous faith, religion and culture", Sarma added.

Stressing that majority community has more responsibility in preserving indigenous faith and culture, the CM added, "If they try to eliminate the indigenous faiths, it will be the saddest day for the world".

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