Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu at the inaugural function of a workshop on priesthood at the Directorate of Indigenous Affairs

Itanagar: The Arunachal Pradesh government is committed to preserving and promoting indigenous culture, which is the identity and pride of the state, Chief Minister Pema Khandu said on Monday.

Speaking at the inaugural function of a workshop on priesthood at the Directorate of Indigenous Affairs (DIA) office here, Khandu said that the directorate was established for preserving and promoting the culture and heritage of the indigenous communities.

“Our culture is like roots. If roots are not protected and made stronger, trees will not survive. Hence for the survival of our communities, culture has to be preserved,” the chief minister said.

Lauding the department for organising the workshop, Khandu said, the institution of priesthood is an integral part of indigenous culture.

“For centuries, we depend on our local priests for every ritual be it during birth, death, sickness, disasters or construction of a house. Every auspicious occasion revolves around priests,” he said.

Expressing concern over the declining number of priests, the chief minister said, a major reason for the dwindling of priesthood is lesser use of native languages.

“Without a written script, almost all our native languages are only spoken and passed on orally. With modern education and exposure, the younger generation is moving away from their native languages and it has become a major concern for us,” he pointed out.

The chief minister urged the elders and parents to speak in their native tongue to their children, at least when they are at home during vacations.

“Our languages are the connections to our culture. If language is lost, our cultural heritage will be lost,” he said.

The state government has offered assistance to researchers and academicians to develop scripts for the native dialects spoken in the state, the chief minister said.

Asking followers of indigenous faiths not to compete with followers of other faiths, he said, India is a secular country and every individual is free to follow any religion that he or she likes.

“Instead of blaming others, we must introspect. May be the lacunae is within us or in our customs,” Khandu said.

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