Follow your heart

Editor,

Religion is a central part of one’s identity. To belong to a religion often means more than simply sharing its beliefs and participating in its rituals; it also means being part of a community and a culture. The article “Returning Home: My Reconversion Story” by Shimtihun Lyngwa (ST September 1, 2020) has sparked a much needed debate on the issue of ‘mass religious conversion’ in Meghalaya. Many followers of the Niam Khasi – Niam Tre have applauded the author of the article for her brave move to go against the Church and reconvert back to the indigenous faith; but there are some Christian leaders who have shamed the author.

In a country like India, there is incredible diversity within each religion in terms of how members define their connections to it. For some, a religion’s theological beliefs and rituals of worship are central to their lives. Others are more drawn to a religion’s community and culture than to its beliefs and rituals. Many even feel part of a religion’s culture but choose not to participate in its rituals at all. Some people feel free to choose a religion for themselves, or to reject religion entirely as a part of their identity. Others, like Shimtihun Lyngwa feel that they have been born and wrongly raised in a foreign religion and therefore are unwilling to follow it since Christianity as we all know, is not the religion of the Khasis, but came to this land on mere boats.

Besides the concept of “ours” and “theirs”, the article has also raised certain issues including the demands on social media that we should invent our own alphabet since written language is a key component of culture. If we want our Khasi community to feel like it has its own living, breathing culture, then we need to think about its written language. The Meghalaya Government as well as the KHADC should seriously consider the demand since the invention will have a profound effect on our unique society and will also help us grow and develop into a stronger community. In addition to this, the alphabet will also help us create specific power dynamics within our Khasi society, including authority and social standing.

As long as we still practice and propagate our indigenous faith, which is the core basis of our culture, the Niam Khasi – Niam Tre will still remain the foundation of our identity.

Yours etc.,

Khrawpyrkhat Khongjer,

Pynursla village,

East Khasi Hills 

 

Restoring Shillong’s glory

Editor,

 “A single spark can ignite an entire revolution”- Never have the words been so apt than to the spark of environmental awareness lit by The Shillong Times Group during their 75th Anniversary Celebration. This beautiful spark lit the hearts of many Shillongities making them come out and start a movement which included multiple cleaning drives, tree plantations, awareness programmes across the city. Just when the cumulative efforts of all started showing results the entire world was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and we all were locked up inside our houses. During this Lockdown period, I kept wondering how our unlock phase would be? Would all the people come back with the same enthusiasm or would every one of us forget our cause and focus only on our own agenda or business once the unlock phase begins?

As the city begins to unlock in phases I am glad to see the same spark reignite. This time it was through a wonderful lady, Ms Martina Lyttan, Magistrate in charge, GS Road & Police Bazar area. Never have I seen all retailers, restaurant owners, hoteliers, residents and office goers unite for a common cause as I have  under the leadership of Ms Lyttan

August 30, 2020 was one such day when we saw a united G.S Road and Police Bazar coming together to clean, disinfect and sanitize the entire locality. The cleaning drive was inaugurated by our D.C, Ms  M War Nongbri. The drive also saw the active participation of our Headman Mr P Singhania who guided us through the process, Sector Police Officer, Mr Jyrwa, Chief Engineer of the Municipal Board Mr FB Chyne, Bruce Marak, Chief Engineer, PWD and Aditya Goenka of the Fire Services. Through the day we saw everyone doing their bit in the cleaning drive with great zeal and enthusiasm. It was truly humbling to see the support from all the sections of society in this noble work.

By the end of the day, the enthusiasm of all the participants ended my worries and made me confident once again that we the citizens of Shillong can regain the glory of our city.

Yours etc.,                                                                                                           Jiwat K Vaswani,

Team JIVA,

Via email

Wanted a green patch at Barik

Editor,

I was deeply impressed reading the editorial published in The Shillong Times (ST Sep 3, 2020) and fully agree with the contents. The Government of Meghalaya must seriously re-look the construction of a shopping mall at Barik Point. Not only will this add to traffic congestion, but will also end opportunities to develop a green patch of land. Let us make our best effort to see that Shillong continues to remain as The Scotland of the East.

Yours etc.,

Dr. K.K.Jhunjhunwala

Editor-in-Chief

Eastern Panorama

A cry in the economic wilderness

Editor,

I am a serious reader of newspapers for at least 36 years, with ”Letters to the Editor” column being my favourite. But hardly have I come across a more heart-rending piece than the letter written by our loving unfortunate ”nameless” sister in Shillong Times (”We are humans too”! ST Sep 3, 2020). On the one hand, her pathetic saga  pierces the heart of all those who still have a heart to speak of; on the other it renders a tight slap on the faces of those who try to prove India’s ”elitism”  by invoking the attainment of Mars Orbit, flaunt India’s ”might” by making a public spectacle in the name of Yoga, advertise ”food sufficiency” of India, proudly beat the trumpet of India’s ”modernity” by pointing out ”IT Revolution” and the high profile software giants of Indian vintage going to the top in USA! Her philosophical cry highlighting the woes of the family, where even her two sons are starving, should compel them to hide their faces in shame(if minimum bit of conscience is still left in them) who squander billions of precious money, time and energy on gigantic statues, lofty flags, bullet trains,  new capital complex, grand temples, Saraswati river ”discovery” project, Ramayana museum and ”Holy Cow” to mention just a few.

 Innumerable fellow Indians are languishing in hell-like conditions without food, clothes,  shelter, education, medicines jobs with the people compelled to engage in much-hated professions out of utter helplessness like our sister faring the worst; yet the welfare of such hapless soul is the last thing on the minds of the relevant authorities and  the society in general as if this vulnerable section(forming the vast majority in India)  simply “does not exist”!  Shouldn’t our heads hang in shame?

 Unless the last person in the queue gets awarded the honour of a human being with necessary rights, privileges and dignity guaranteed; Indians can never attain the moral right to flaunt it’s ”success” ”progress” or ”modernity”!

 Despite such a pathetic life, our sister(one of the billions of pandemic-affected Indians) will perhaps get some consolation on seeing that at least The Shillong Times did not take offence or get repulsed for her act of writing such an emotionally overwhelming letter! Rather the daily has published it with such importance and honour! No thanks would be enough for such a noble gesture by The Shillong Times family and respected editor. Feeling proud of Shillong Times for being human to another fellow human being!

Yours etc.,

Kajal Chatterjee,

Via email

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