Images of Naga motifs used in a Pandal that went viral on social media has had the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) and Western Tenyimi Hoho (WTH) expressing strong resentment.
In a statement, NBCC general secretary Rev. Dr. Zelhou Keyho expressed dismay over the usage traditional attires and cultural items as decorative elements inside and outside Durga puja pandals in certain part of Dimapur adding religious celebrations and rituals should be done within the ambit of one’s own religious practice. He said what was intended to be an attraction could be viewed as an insult on the community when unrelated culture and religious elements are used by others.
He alleged that the intention of the use of Naga motifs appeared to be to provoke and hurt the sentiments of the people and to give false presentation and impression to the outside world that Nagas were Hindus.
Keyho said a propaganda is as serious as false conversion accusation used by the Hindu majority group to persecute and demolish the sacred institutions of the Christians. “Let your Durga puja celebration and rituals which you go through during this season remain yours in a peaceful manner,” he said and urged not to portray wrong image and picture to the outside world by using Naga attires as decorative piece. He further said using cultural pieces without understanding the deep-seated meaning, would hurt and go a long way in creating misunderstanding between communities.
While suggesting to decorate pandals according to the Hindu culture and religious practices, Keyho said one should not hurt the sentiments of the community by misusing their culture, traditions and practices.
“What the Hindu community has done is not only an insult to the culture of the people of the land but it is a religious bigotry and blasphemy,” Keyho stated.
Keyho, however, called upon all to build bridges and not walls which would widen the misunderstanding that has been created.
“Let us be sensitive to each other and avoid things that will create further division during religious festival and ceremony. Let us learn to respect each other and peacefully celebrate our festivals and religious ceremonies,”Keyho stated.
WTH: Western TenyimiHoho (WTH) also raised objection to the usage of traditional Naga symbols/motifs in Durga puja pandals without permission or consent, saying it was a “sacrilege to our traditions and religion”.
In a letter to the Hindu Seva Samiti Nagaland, WTH president VekhosayiNyekha said it has deeply hurt the sentiments of the Tenyimi people in particular and the Nagas in general.
Reminding that the Naga society was intrinsically linked to age-old practices and cultures, Nyekha said: “Our traditional symbols/motif hasitsown cultural significance to which Nagas holds dear and random use of it cannot be tolerated.”
As a social organization, he said it was WTH’s obligation to protect Nagas’ rich culture, traditions and religion from being misused,diluted or abused. “We have always believed in respect andpeaceful co-existence with every community and will continue to do so and we also expect you all to respect our traditions as a highly respected body,” he said.
Further, WTH said it was their sincere desire to maintain cordial relations with every section of people practicing various traditions and religion. Therefore, WTH appealed to HSS to reciprocate the same andtake necessary actions to maintain peace and tranquillity in the society.
Pandal erected in W. Bengal: HSS
When attention was drawn on the controversy surrounding the images/video that went viral on social media on the issue, president Hindu Seva Samiti Dimapur Y.P.Gupta told Nagaland Post Wednesday that pandal was erected in Kharagpur West Bengal and not in Nagaland.
Gupta, who is also an advocate, informed that HSS had taken note of the video and inspected all the pandals in Dimapur and Kohima. He said it was later found that no such pandal was erected in Nagaland.
Gupta urged upon all against posting such videos without verifying or authenticating the facts which hurt the culture or religion of others. He said the Samiti had also issued strict guidelines to all, including setting up of puja pandals. Gupta said every community in Nagaland has been living peacefully, and there has been no differences.