Religion in Arunachal Pradesh

Religion in Arunachal Pradesh

Owing to its ethnic and cultural diversity, Arunachal Pradesh has long been a spot for the syncretism of different traditional religions. As of today, 40% of the state population follow the Donyi-Polo and Rangfrah religions while the majority of the remainder is Buddhist. Hindus are also found among the Nocte & Miri. Tribals, Buddhists and Hindus coexisted peacefully before the 1800s.

Donyi Poloism is practiced in the form of believing the supremacy of the Sun and the Moon as the greatest deities. As the overseer of the gods we cannot see BO BOMONG. donyi Poloism is followed by major tribe groups like Adis, Apatanis, hill Miris and Nishis who all claim their origin from a single common ancestor – ABO TANI.

The Donyi-Polo faith is the oldest religion followed by all Abo Tani descendants – it is a nature worship religion. The religion has received a massive revival in the decade of 1990 to 2000 under the guidance of Late Talom Rukbo. The religion is based on maintaining and following harmony with the natural world. It believes that every man has a role to play in his life and a purpose for living. How it is etched out is up to the man. Some of the main deities followed by the donyi Polians are KINE NANE, DOYING BOTE, GUMIN SOYIN, DADI BOTE, PEDONG NANE. These mythical deities are the protectors of the Harvests, Home, Life and natural resources. One of the basic teachings in Donyi Poloism is based on the common belief that everything evolved out of nothingness. The nothingness after days of transitions later led to creation of SEDI MELO. the origin of all living and non-living forms in this world. All Donyi Polians trace their ancestry to SEDI MELO. Some of the tribe groups who follow Donyi Poloism eg. The Adis maintain a distinct orally recited lineage of their family lines which is called one’s “ODONG”. All the ODONGs trace back to SEDI MELO. The soul or “AYIT” as it is called in the local languages undergoes life in a man’s body. A man’s purpose in his lifetime is blessed when he learns to live in harmony with god’s all the creations.

The adherents worship an array of nature-related gods and highly complex rituals, which show elaborate art forms passed down through many generations.

After Donyi-Polo, Buddhism lay claim to about 15% of the state’s population. While Tibetan Buddhism is mainly practised by tribes living near the Tibetan border and in the Western part of the state, Theravada Buddhism is practised by tribal groups of Thai-Burmese origin living in Lohit and Changlang.

Theravada Buddhism is followed by the Thai-Burmese Khampti, Singpho, Zekhring and the Chakma refugees living in Lohit, Changlang and Tirap. The Tangsas, on the other hand, practice a blend of Donyi-Polo and Theravada Buddhism. However, with the advent of the rebel NSCN led by the Christian Naga, the local population faces a great danger against their Buddhist heritage that has been passed down through many generations.

On the other hand, their Tibetan Buddhist counterparts, are relatively safer compared to the Theravada Buddhists owing to their geographical location. Mainly followed by the Monpa and Sherdukpen populations of Tawang and West Kameng, Buddhism is the most widely followed religion in these two districts. Neighbouring tribes like the Miji and the Khowa have also come under Buddhist influence.

A significant proportion of the Buddhists in Arunachal Pradesh claim to be Tibetan refugees.

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