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DGHC creates cell for religious studies

Darjeeling, June 18: Religious studies and research on local culture are set to receive a fillip in the hills with the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) creating an ecclesiastical department.

An order issued by the DGHC, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, suggests that the new department will have one director, three joint-directors and three assistant directors. However, when Tika Khati, the executive officer of the information and culture department who has been made the director of the cell, was contacted for details, he declined comment as he had “not yet seen the order”.

The order follows a circular issued by the council on May 23 which stated that the DGHC would support “needy monasteries” from July by "engaging head priests, assistant priests, mali (gardener) and chowkidar (guard)". All executive officers, the acting director of tourism and executive engineers of Kurseong, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Mirik divisions had been told to scout for monasteries that needed funds. Monks in these monasteries are expected to receive remuneration from the DGHC.

Though it is yet to be known whether the monasteries that had been approached have agreed to the financial aid or not, the formation of a full-fledged, ecclesiastical department suggests that the council is supporting the religious institutions in a big way. Since Ghisingh is known to be a patron of jhakris (shamans), fedambas and bijuas (priestly heads of the Rai community), studies on practices like shamanism are likely to be taken up at the research wing of the department.

It was learnt that Khati will be in charge of the formalities that will have to be done before the recruitment of the three joint directors on contract. While one of them will be K.K, Limbu, who is currently an assistant law officer in the DGHC, Kamal Chandra Rai, an academician, will be the second joint-director. Pasang Bhutia, former chairman of Darjeeling Municipality, will be the third joint director.

Sources said Bhutia has already resigned as the ward commissioner of the Darjeeling municipality. The resignation will probably be announced by the civic body either tomorrow or the day after.

The three assistant directors will be B.K. Jairu, Birahi Kaila and Goma Subba. While Jairu is an assistant director of culture in Kalimpong, Kaila holds the same post in Mirik. Subba is an announcer with the culture department in Kurseong.

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