Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Return of the Donyi-Polo:25 years of Revivalism



Talom Rukbo,the ambassador of cultural renaissance

                     Does religion,faith and worship still hold importance to the people in this hyper liberal individualist world? Have you ever imagined people’s skyrocketing participation even in this age on socio-religious movement that was reawakened just two and half decades ago? The Donyi-Polo Yelam Kébang(DPYK),(but spelt as Do:nyi Po:lo as per dialectic tone of the Tanis,also in their religious book,in recent nomenclature too)the brainchild of late Talom Rukbo ,that kick started its reawakening movement at Pasighat back in 1986 has now gathered into eminence among the Tani peoples of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.A person from Along in West Siang district who happened to be Talom Rukbo's contemporary said in his deliberation that Rukbo initiated cultural renaissance in the Northeastern region among the indigenous peoples.The silver jubilee year celebration of Donyi Polo movement,considered as the indigenous faith since ancient times; commemorating Talom Rukbo,the socio-religious reformer,witnessed thousands of participation of delegates from as far as Tuting near China border in Arunachal Pradesh  to Tsangpo/Siang/Brahmaputra’s largest deltaic island Majuli in the plains of Assam.The Tani people are none other than Adi,Nyishi,Galo,Mising,Tagin,Hill Miri tribes,also well-known as the descendants of Abo Tani.The Tani people habitats are the plains and hills in the states of Assam,Arunachal Pradesh of  India and part of Tibet Autonomous Region(TAR) of China.
The Central Ganggiing ground,the venue where the event saw the large gathering
 Return of the 'traditions' against 'modernity'?
            The Donyi Polo as an indigenous faith has been gaining momentum that was clear from the large number of participation in the recently held 25 years of revival celebration at the place where it regained its movement from 01 to 03 December,2011.It  is equally important to think why the ancient faith that was limited only to communities and households practices has seen  increasing number of people’s participation.The modernization that comes to contact in the form of development in education,communication and exchange of ideas along with socio-economic and  political implications among the tribes previously untouched by modern civilizations have huge impact in the thinking and perception of the people.First it was Christian Missionaries who reached out to the Tani tribes followed by administration of the colonial government,and finally the national government after it India attained Independence.Whether  it may be the conscious  educated masses’ emotional bonding to one’s culture,language,faith,origin,race,ethnicity that were once educated by Christian or Hindu Missionaries or their deep attachment towards ‘traditional’ spirituality the Donyi Polo movement has thousand reasons to smile to-day,that too  in this market defined-destiny of the world.It is significant to mentioned the critical debates of the academic circles  here that the Marxists thought modernization would usher development of  inevitable class consciousness that would strike at the root of ethnicity.Again,Emile Durkheim,the eminent sociologist,said the growth of individualism will make the ethnic groupings more or less redundant;Max Weber emphasized that ‘rationality ‘ would strike the root of ‘traditional’ structures.Although they may not have used the term ‘ethnic’ but the groupings were more or less in reference to it.
 Delegates from Majuli Island to Tuting in China border
People thronging the prayer hall-Ganggiing
                     The spectacular event gathering the phases in case of Donyi Polo movement is noteworthy in reference to the social sciences debate.The event  at Pasighat saw younger generations’ active involvement .It was observed that there were number of cultural troupes particularly females from Tuting to Majuli dancing to the hymns of Angun Bédang,the sacred book of Donyi Polo believers.The devotion and dedication of young  volunteers in the entire three-day event of Donyi Polo Yelam Kébang in a rarely-seen discipline manner reflected  the younger generations’ interest,determination,responsibility,devotion and commitment to uphold and carry forward the values and morals what the forefathers has bestowed on them.The practices called ‘traditional’ has received widespread applause from the younger Tani generation even at the juncture of liberal individualism.These developments seriously called for a new research interest in the arena of social sciences.
A gadu onno sornam competition on progress
                  The venue of the DPYK’s celebration show thousands of people of all ages thronging the site for the entire three days.The event saw revival of dying cultural traits by organizing local sports such as gadu onno sornam(cotton blanket wool making;gadu is a hand woven blanket used by Tanis),dogdiig giinam(stand-bamboo walk),tug-of-war with bamboo,riidiin yaadnaam(the holy thread making),cultural competitions of Donyi Polo hymns ,traditional attire show in where large number of participants and spectators witnessed the events.Delegates  not only East Siang region were there but from Guwahati,Itanagar,Roing,Namsai,Tuting,Yingkiong,Majuli,Jonai,Dhemaji,North Lakhimpur attended the event.Religious discourses were cited by Miris/Priests and functionaries of DPYK in the programmes.
 The Sun Shines ,the Moon Lightens up!
           Isn’t the 25th year commemorative event a big return of Donyi-Polo?I meant the homecoming of indigenous faith with large number of Tani people’s participation and self-realization of the values and ideals of their indigenous belief.Let me conclude with a quote from the Donyi-Polo faith for the sake of  righteous path of human-being:

         "Do:nyi angun unnam kísa:pé apí angun un langka,
          Po:lo lolat latnam kísa:pé arang ansíngém pélangka”
          (Enlighten your mind as the Sun shine,soften your mind as the Moon light.)
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