The lives of Tribals and Adivasis in India are always an intertwining of struggles and celebrations. Over the years Tribal and Adivasi Sunday has been observed in many parts of our country to sensitize the Indian churches to break down barriers that separate indigenous people from other communities and to express solidarity with the struggles of our Tribal and Adivasi brothers and sisters. The member churches of the National Council of Churches in India and Theological Colleges in India celebrated Tribal and Adivasi Sunday all across the country on Sunday, the 7th of August 2016 and also on following Sundays. The theme for the celebration was, “Towards Just and inclusive Communities: Visions and Voices of Tribals and Adivasis”.
Celebration in All Saints Cathedral, St. Thomas Church and AHM 1840 Church, CNI, Nagpur:
Rev. Dr. Hmingthansanga, General Secretary of All India Sunday School Association preached at All Saints Cathedral CNI Church on Luke 10. In his sermon he emphatically asked “Who is my neighbour?’’ and highlighted the problems faced by Tribal, Adivasis and Dalits in today’s context.
Categorizing Tribals and Adivasis as inferior or backward, marginalising and discriminating on any ground is a sin before the creator God as God has created all human beings in God’s own image, said Mr. Pradip Bansrior, Executive Secretary-Commission on Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis during the Tribal and Adivasi Sunday worship at St. Thomas CNI Church, Nagpur on 7th August 2016.
Ms. Ngalaton Ningsen, Intern-Commission on Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis shared briefly about the struggles of Tribals and Adivasis at AHM 1840 CNI Church, Nagpur.
Celebration in Mennonite Church in India, Chhattisgarh
Mennonite Church in India celebrated Tribal and Adivasi Sunday on August 07, 2016. Dn. Vikal Rao, Secretary of Mennonite Church in India encouraged the congregation to voice out for Adivasi brothers and sisters who have been deprived of their rights especially of their land and forest rights for the sake of development. Two of the Adivasi Bishops from MCI shared their life experiences, the present political scenario and challenged how the Church can provide help and make a difference in their lives.
Celebration in Samavesam of Telugu Baptist Church, Andhra Pradesh
The General Secretary, Rev. Dr. J. M. Franklin of the Samavesam of Telugu Baptist Churches thanked and acknowledged NCCI for encouraging the observance of Tribal and Adivasi Sunday as he believed that through this service the churches realized the suffering of Tribals and Adivasis at the hands of dominating communities. On 7th August 2016 the STBC churches celebrated Tribal and Adivasi Sunday and prayed for freedom, equality, and proper education facilities for Tribals and Adivasis.
Celebration in Bishop’s College, Kolkata
The students and faculty of Bishop’s College Kolkata observed Tribal and Adivasi Sunday on 7th August. They followed the order of worship prepared by Commission on Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis, NCCI. The sermon was brought by the Rev. Dr. Sunil M Caleb, the Principal of Bishop’s College who preached from the text Matthew 15: 21-28. A special song from the Bishop’s college choir “Redeemed” and also a Santali song “Bharotdisomtabon” sung by the students using the Adivasi drum ‘Nagda’ powerfully conveyed a sense of the struggles of Tribals and Adivasis. .
Celebration in Leonard Theological College, Jabalpur
Leonard Theological College celebrated Tribal and Adivasi Sunday on 7th August 2016. Rev. Lalchawimawia, the celebrant of the Holy Communion exhorted the gathering based on the given text (Exo. 3:7-10; Lk. 10:25-37; and Gal. 3:25-29). He acknowledged Tribals/Adivasis as the original inhabitants and children of the land. He exhorted the congregation to take up challenges by breaking present day barriers, demonstrating how Christ broke barriers by setting people free from the bondage of death. He envisioned Tribals/Adivasis acting as agents of integrated community, thereby contributing to the realization of “Just and Inclusive Communities”.
Celebration in Eastern Theological College Jorhat, Assam
Eastern Theological College celebrated “Tribal and Adivasi Sunday” on 7th August 2016. Bemoaning the condition of tribals and adivasis, the worshippers brought their intercessions before God for the liberation of the oppressed and the restoration of peace. They prayed earnestly for the the reign of the sovereign God and committed their lives for the same. ETC shall always stand together firm and strong for justice and peace so that the kingdom of God is established, where the word of God abides.
Celebration in Santalia Council of Churches, Jharkhand
The Methodist Church of Pakur district in Santal Parganas, Jharkhand celebrated Tribal & Adivasi Sunday on August 28, 2016 in the premises of Dholkatha Methodist Church, Maheshpur, Pakur. The main speaker was Rev Stephen Murmu, Principal, Santal Theological Seminary, Dumka(NELC). Prof. Stephen Marandih, local MLA was the Chief Guest during the event. Members from Methodist Churches and NELC participated in this grand event which was followed by a fellowship Lunch. Rev. Emmanuel Chitrakar, Rev. Roshan Hansdak, Mr. Raja McGee Ex. Secy BRC and other dignitaries from MCI participated.
Celebration in North East India, Meghalaya
Church of North India, Diocese of North East India, Shillong, Meghalaya celebrated Tribal and Adivasi Sunday on 7th of August, 2016. Special prayer was offered for Tribals and Adivasis in India. The special service was held at Sadhu Sunder Singh Memorial Church, Shillong, Various issues and problems of the communities were highlighted and prayed for.
Celebration in Mar Thoma Church, Jamalgula Horeb
The congregation of Marthoma Church, Jamalgula Horeb celebrated Tribal and Adivasi Sunday on 7th August 2016.
We are grateful for the enormous support we have received from churches, dioceses, mission fields and institutions in celebrating this special day. We are yet to receive reports on the celebration of Tribal and Adivasi Sunday from some more member churches and institutions. We will share them in due course of time.
Commission on Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis
National Council of Churches in India