Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Gospel Centenary

Even as the politics of the southern Manipur is still in a mess, the 100th anniversary of the arrival of gospel is celebrated in Delhi with optimism. Through tireless efforts of some Khups, a Kap, a Mang, a Lian, a Son and so on and so forth, the level of attendance is overwhelming, the level of ecstasy unprecedented and the Dogra Hall of IIT shone and blazed with the smiling faces of Chairmen, and Pastors of various hues. Naturally, a line from the Old Testament comes to your mind:
When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

The southern Manipur is home to the Paites, the Teddim Chins, the Thadous, the Hmars, the Zous, the Vaipheis, the Gangtes, the Simtes, the Suktes, etc. Inspite of shared grievance against encroachment, discrimination and neglect, the tribes are more divided than united. And when the winds of insurgency blew in, some of them fan out in various towns and cities. Delhi is a favourite destination in this regard, where, ofcourse the erstwhile discrimination they used to feel, gives way to insults. Protests in Jantar Mantar yielded little. At last they forged a brotherhood forum in a JNU Hall. That was also a moment of fun and frolic, rather enjoyable to the participants. To that extent the occasion was remembered. Meanwhile inter tribe competition still carried on. Sometimes such competitions transform into rivalry. And matters do turn ugly. Thus the psychological state of brothers who understand each other's language remain the same. Be it in Manipur or in Delhi. And when elders look up to the sky, the 7th May 2010 was approaching. They said, ‘let’s make the best out of Gospel Centenary’
The story goes back to 1910 whence a Welsh Missionary who had tracked his way through the dangerous jungles of India's north-eastern province to an Indo-Burmese border town of Aizawl, made a break through. His name is Watkin Roberts. The missionary stuck gold when the chief of Senvon in Manipur showed interest in the Gospel of John. A team was immediately despatched from Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram. Thereafter the gospel with the royal patronage spread like wild fire in the region. The 7th May, the date when Roberts with the team from Mizoram crossed the Tuivai river on their second visit to the Manipur village has since been celebrated as Missionary Day. If you subtract the number 1910 from 2010 you will get a sum of 100. So A.D. 2010 happens to be the 100th year of the arrival of gospel in the south district of Manipur. In other words the gospel has scored a century!
As part of the celebration the member Churches presented well choreographed dance items with heavy dose of gospel message, choruses and other special numbers from bevies of talented artists. The items were presented with melodious sound tracks with chances of stage clutter reduced to the minimum. There is a general feeling that the artists and ushers possess just about everything in them that goes to make a professional. The superiority of caliber inherent in the tribals had become evident even in occasions in the past like the Siamsinpawlpi (SSPP) conferences. Actually, in terms of aptitude and learning, there is a certain level of self confidence among them, who have one time or another, waded through the chaotic state machinery. But the educated and talented tribals in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities share a common anxiety i.e. the plight of those still trapped in the mayhem of the home state. That is a bondage which may be difficult to be shaken off in years to come. Moreover the constituent tribes have a tendency to uphold and emphasize their respective exclusive traits than the shared outlook and traditions. Paradoxically positive change or improvement through collective effort is the only solution to the problem. Even the status and outlook of them who are lounging in alien lands also call for such a change. Which is not humanly achievable. So for a Government servant, a college student, a pastor or an evangelist life in Manipur or Delhi is a life of perpetual prayer and entreaty:
Turn again our captivity (from disunity), O LORD, as the streams in the south (that Watkin Roberts had crossed hundred years ago, for Love).