Monks pray against conversion

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  • Published 25.02.10

Dibrugarh, Feb. 24: Buddhist monks today urged the Arunachal Pradesh government to keep strict vigil on forced conversion and take stringent measures to protect ethnic culture and tradition.

The appeal was made at an assembly of monks held today, the concluding day of the three-day dedication ceremony of the newly built Golden Pagoda at Tengapani in the state’s Lohit district.

The monks’ assembly also resolved to urge the government to re-introduce Sanskrit in the schools of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

Hundreds of Buddhist devotees from the country and abroad had congregated for the dedication ceremony of the pagoda (Buddhist Temple), known as Poi Lu Kongmu Kham in Tai-Khampti dialect.

Apart from monks from the various monasteries of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, around 200 monks from all over India and from countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia took part in the monks’ assemb ly held this morning.

The assembly was moderated by Navindra Mahathera, the president of Arunachal Pradesh Bhikkhu Sangha.

He said, “Conversion has been going on, particularly in the eastern districts of Arunachal Pradesh like Tirap, Changlang and Lohit, at a rapid pace. People are losing their language, culture, tradition, custom and identity with forced conversion. The time has come for the government to take tough measures against such forceful conversion.”

Mahathera said they would soon meet Governor Lt Gen. (retd) J.J. Singh and chief minister Dorjee Khandu and submit memoranda to this effect.

He praised the Arunachal Pradesh minister for public health engineering and water supply, Chowna Mein, for coming forward to build such a magnificent pagoda.

Mein, a Tai-Khampti man, has represented Mahadevpur Assembly seat in Lohit district since 1995. He spent Rs 3 crore to built the pagoda and the ceremony was also organised entirely by him and his family. The three-hectare plot was provided by the state government. Mein’s wife, Sati, is the legislator from Namsai.

Thailand’s ambassador Krit Kraichitti also attended the dedication ceremony. He was accompanied by a cultural and business delegation.

He said the pagoda would extend India’s socio-cultural relationship with Thailand. He released a souvenir and unveiled a Tai calendar.