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Arunachal: Native cult leaders furious as altar desecrated during conversion

The act was committed in a house on July 4, purportedly during the family’s conversion to Christianity.

Published: 07th July 2020 04:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th July 2020 04:54 PM   |  A+A-

Donyi-Polo cult is a coalition of indigenous animist belief systems centred around the worship of the Sun and the Moon. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: A video showing a group of people burning an altar, images, and other materials used by the “Donyi-Polo” adherents in Arunachal Pradesh enraged the indigenous faith organisations which filed an FIR with the police.

The incident was reported from East Kameng district headquarters Seppa. The act was committed in a house on July 4, purportedly during the family’s conversion to Christianity.

The outfits of indigenous cults said the act of the accused had hurt the sentiments of Donyi-Polo adherents. One of them, Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society of Arunachal Pradesh, alleged a pastor of the Pentecostal church in Seppa had taken the lead in the act along with some others.

The police said all the accused persons would be arrested.

“An officer is probing the case. We will call the accused to the police station and interrogate them. Their arrest, production before the judicial magistrate and other things will be carried out,” East Kameng Superintendent of Police Piyush Fulzele Nirakar told this newspaper.

Stating that the accused were cooperating with the police, he said it was a non-bailable offence with provisions for imprisonment for three years.

“The Arunachal Christian Forum is apologetic about the incident. They are apologetic to the other faith as well. They said it was a private affair at a house. Both faiths are cooperating with each other as well as the district administration and the police. Everything is peaceful,” the SP added.

Arunachal is a land of three principal faiths, two global – Christianity and Buddhism –  and the third is Donyi-Polo (meaning sun-moon). It is a coalition of indigenous animist belief systems centred around the worship of the sun and the moon.

In the face of inroads being made by Christianity, Donyi-Polo has seen a steady decline in the number of its adherents. Much of it can be attributed to followers abandoning the faith due to a costly ritual.

“It’s a Donyi-Polo tradition that a follower must perform a special ritual if a member of the family is critically ill. It is performed to seek God’s blessings for the person’s speedy recovery. The puja is incomplete without the sacrifice of a mithun (a bovine animal). The ritual entails expenditures up to Rs 70,000,” Maling Koje, a resident of Mechukha on the border with Tibet region of China, had once told this correspondent.

The leaders of Donyi-Polo faith admit that the expensive ritual is driving many to Christianity. But there are also allegations that people are influenced through “healing crusades”.

Arunachal has a population of 13 lakh – roughly around one-third of the tribals are Donyi-Polo adherents.

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