Ostracism slur on Sangha

They said the Sangha, apart from formulating norms and rules, should also find solutions to the unemployment problem in the state

By Gaurav Das in Guwahati
  • Published 19.05.19, 1:20 AM
  • Updated 19.05.19, 1:20 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Writer Lakshminandan Bora unveils an oil painting of Srimanta Xankardev by artist Rintu Khargharia in Guwahati on Saturday. Picture by UB Photos

Martin Luther, the propagator of the Reformation movement in Europe in the 16th century, was excommunicated by the Catholic Church for rejecting its teachings. In the 21st century, a section of people in rural Assam are living in fear of being “excommunicated” for rearing pigs, roosters and hens, which is against the xatra culture, according to Srimanta Sankaradeva Sangha.

The Biswanath district unit of the Sangha, which has over 30 lakh registered members, issued a notice to Balendra Nath of Ghahigaon village at Gohpur recently stating that he and his family may “face excommunication” as his son Indrajeet had started a piggery. Balendra and Indrajeet said they were being made ekghoria (ostracised) by villagers after the order was issued. They said the Sangha, apart from formulating norms and rules, should also find solutions to the unemployment problem in the state.

Indrajeet said, “I worked in Bangalore for a year. From my savings, I started a piggery after returning to my village. On the orders of the local Sangha unit, people are boycotting us. It is quite distressing. We could also be asked not to attend any marriage or religious function in the village.”

A few days after the Gohpur incident, a local television channel reported another incident from Kakir at Lanka in Hojai district, where two youths, Gautam Bora and Sanjib Basa, were allegedly sent notices by the local Sangha unit threatening “excommunication” for rearing pigs and roosters.

Pitambar Dev Goswami, xatradharikar of Auniati Xatra in Majuli, said the incident went against the ideals of this age of science and scientific temperament. “Xatra culture can never create prejudice towards others. Many of our followers are from indigenous communities and different castes. Xatras stand for social progress. The issuance of excommunication notices is quite medieval,” he said.

Sangha general secretary Babul Bora said an inquiry will be launched into the Gohpur incident to find the truth. He said the issuing of such a notice was “area specific” and each local unit had to “adhere to specific views or values of a particular area”.

“We will receive the report in 15 days. The Sangha does not subscribe to excommunication or social boycott but at the same time, decisions taken by local units depend on local customs. Some villages refrain from rearing pigs. The next step is to have an

open discussion on the issue in our next meeting. This is a very sensitive issue. We have asked the local unit to reply and will take a decision after that. We are yet to gain knowledge about the other incident reported from Kakir,” Bora said.