Jesuits celebrate International Indigenous Peoples Day

August 23, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Indigenous PeopleChattisgarh, August 9, 2014: International Indigenous Peoples Day was celebrated as a day of rights at Pathalgaon with a theme, ‘an occasion of being aware of rights to acquire them’. In the morning it was celebrated at RVT Kerakachhar, with the trainees and boys and girls of Gorrapara Middle School. The celebration was commenced with lighting of lamps and with a song. Welcoming the audience Fr. Theodore Kujur, S.J. explained the meaning and purpose of gathering and celebration.

Fr. Marcel Ekka, S.J. told in detail, ‘what is tribalness and characteristics of tribals’. According to him the core characteristic of tribalness is communitarian life, consisting in common ownership of resources, group singing and dancing, etc. Five “J” namely Jal, Jangal, Jamin, Jan and Janwar (water, forest, land, people and cattle-animals) give identity to tribals. On the other hand language, custom-traditions, culture, kinship relationships add to tribalness.

With songs and examples he explained these to the audience and shared his vast experience with regard to the situation (past) of tribals in Jashpur. Fr. Yacub Kujur, S.J. told that rights and powers give identity to a person. Therefore, all want power and authority. One who has physical, mental and economic power easily obtains his rights. Physical and economic powers can be controlled by mental power. Therefore, students should set their goals in attainment of this power and prepare themselves for the coming tuff competition. Their aims should be to become owners not servants.

Whatever high posts a person holds, he is a mere servant but one who has even a small business, is an owner. He challenged the audience with a question “What do you want to be, an owner or a servant?” He briefly explained the indigenous peoples rights declared by UN (13 September, 2007), Constitutional rights including PESA and FRA. Telling the purpose of the celebration he said that it is an opportunity to become aware of the rights and take it as an opportunity to obtain them. Obtaining them requires struggle. For, there is no one to give them rather there are many to loot them from us.

We are the greatest enemy of so call ‘development’. Indian Constitution has given some rights to us, but we do not know them, we receivers of them are still sleeping. We do not know what have we to take. Rather, we are regretting over our resources being snatched away. The time has come to become aware of the rights in saving tribalness and identity, which is to be handed over to the coming generation as a divine gift.

Fr. Rajesh Xalxo, S.J. Proposed vote of thanks. Every one enjoyed himself with group singing and dancing.

In the afternoon, another celebration was arranged in the hall of Prakash School under the leadership Fr. Petrus Kerketta, S.J. Students and staff of Holy Cross, Praksh School and Ashs Deep participated in it. Seasonal group dances were presented by the girls and a street play by the boys. In between views and reflections were put forward. Fr. Petrus Kerketta, S.J. gave a brief history of Oraons, telling that they were the developer of rich Idus Valley Civilization. Defeated by the enemies they moved to South India, from there again towards North and settled themselves at Rohtasgarh. Again defeated by Cheros they came to Ranchi area and from there they spread toward Barwe, Beeru, Gangpur anf Jashpur. A group of Oraons remained on Rajmahal Hills and now they are called Mal Paharia. Frs. Marcel and Yacub addressed the gathering as mentioned above.

Fr. Agapit Tirkey, S.J. threw lights on present situation of Jashpur. In which he mentioned that Jashpur is abundantly endowed with natural resources and mines and minerals-bauxite, gold, diamond, coal, precious stones, etc. So many companies are eagerly waiting to come to this area and of course some of them have already come. Consequently, tribals are threatened with displacement. On the other hand tribals themselves are inviting companies through their migration and non cultivation of lands. Educated have migrated for services and uneducated and dropouts are migrating in search of livelihood. Due to this process of migration the number of tribals of this area has drastically gone down. This alarming situation invites every tribal of this area for deeper reflection and quick action plan.

In between the program awakening slogans kept the audience cheerful and attentive and with loud shouting of slogan, “Jai Adiwasi” the celebration was concluded. Fr. Rakesh R. Bara, S.J. and Srs. Ruth and Cyrila did the work of M.C. and vote of thanks was proposed by Cyrila. The audience was served with ‘Murra’ sponsored by Prakash School.

According to the plan it was to be celebrated at Block, Panchayat, village and any appropriate forum levels. The main focus was village. But due to rain and cultivation people could not give time for the celebration. The aim of coming together was to be ware and be educated with ones rights and struggle to acquire them. Sometimes it is observed that people do not want to come together for such gatherings. It indicates that they do not value such things. Immediate needs are their concerns, not of long term gains which would come through rights and education. For other celebrations they can sacrifice their work but not for educational and awareness building. Most of them are half educated, pretend to know everything and so do not want to listen and learn. These attitudes have to be corrected without delay if tribal culture, identity and existence to be maintained and preserved.

One encouraging thing is that most of the participants in these celebrations were youth. These and other such occasions could be considered starting point and solid ground of preparing of youth. If they ponder upon the above points, there is possibility of creation of new society. Change and revolution are brought through youth. The vibrant energy of youth has to be channelized in right direction in order to create a new tribal society where justice, peace and love will reign.

– yacub kujur

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