TRADITIONAL RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, PRACTICES AND IMPACTS OF CHRISTIANITY AMONG THE NYISHIS OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH, INDIA
Complex systems of beliefs in the spiritual qualities of nature and at the same time the conception of a Supreme Being are the two significant traits which characterises the traditional religion of Nyishi people. The spiritual worlds of the people are dominated by a number of Uyub (spirits) either benevolent or malevolent. It is normally believed by the villagers that various diseases, miseries and misfortunes are caused by the evil spirits. These spirits have such great powers that they may exert influence on man in his earthly life and after life too. Almost every tribal people believed in a Supreme God, who is just, benevolent and good. Traditionally, the village people often considered Donyi-Pollo or the Sun and the Moon as one supreme God. Belief in the existence of supernatural powers is almost universal. Day-to-day unexplainable experiences have led the villagers into believing in other than the material visible world i.e. in the invisible spiritual world or supernatural power. Generally the people are found to establish a close relationship with the spiritual world either by controlling or overpowering the spirit by enchanting or practicing some techniques and canalising the power, for good or bad or by offering ritual or worship to propitiate the supernatural power for acquisition of the thing or object desired.
However, nowadays, there are clear indications that the Christian religious ideas have penetrated into the traditional religion of the people in the Nyishi villages. They have taken up certain ‘Christianised’ rituals as well as participate in the worship of God in church. Apart from their relative physical isolation from the higher Christian personalities, with certain amount of avidity, the people as a group has definitely came within the Christian social fold. However, there are still many who retain their traditional religious beliefs and ritual practices which are altogether free from Christian influence.
The Nyishis believes in the existence of a number of spirits which are called Uyub. They believe that there are Uyub in the jungles, on the lofty hills, on the top of huge or giant trees call Sangrik Sangney (Banyan tree), in rivers, and inside and outside the houses and these spirits often hurt human beings. Most of the Uyub are malevolent in character and cause harm to the human beings. The most dreaded Uyub are the Dojang and Yapam who resides in the jungles and take a toll of the human lives as they please by making people fall ill. Similarly, Jengee and Pamte, Nyori and Pamsi are known for causing various kinds of fever. A number of these Uyub (spirits) live in the forests that make people miserable by causing fevers and aches, swellings, dysentery and sores. Parte-Ringte Uyub is believed to be responsible for agriculture and, therefore, if a man is to have a good crop, these Uyub (spirits) should be pleased. Then, there are domestic Uyub like Ringtum Partum, Chirr Yorr, etc., who look after the welfare of the family and are given offerings of chicken and fowl. It is very difficult to mention the name of all the Uyub here since their number is very large.
The current paper is focused on the following prime objectives:
i. To understand the traditional beliefs and rituals practices among the Nyishis. ii. To understand the emergence of heterogeneous Christian beliefs and practices among the indigenous believers. iii. And finally, to find out the impacts of Christianity which has brought social change among the Nyishis of the study village.
For present paper I used both primary and secondary sources to collect data and to gained information on the given topic and its related aspects. The primary data were collected by undertaking...
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