On 31st January, 2023 Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture celebrated its 26th Foundation Day at Dr. B C Lahkar Auditorium, Gauhati Commerce College, Chandmari, Guwahati. The program was hosted by Ku. Barnali Chakraborty, Research Associate, VKIC.
The program commenced with Mangalacharan, recited by Smt Monika Mahanta, Karyakarta of Vivekananda Kendra, followed by a Borgeet from Ku. Amrit Prabha Mahanta and team.
The program was graced by Smt. Nandita Gorlosa, Minister for Indigenous and Tribal Faith and Culture Department, Power, Mines and Minerals and Cooperation, Govt. of Assam as the Chief Guest.
The Foundation Day Lecture was deliberated by Prof. Bhagat Oinam, Director, Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advance Study. He is also the Chairperson of the Centre for Philosophy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Welcoming the august gathering, Dr Joram Begi, Chairman of Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture, explained the role of VKIC, of how through community research, it strives in finding the commonalities amongst the various diverse communities of the North East region. He also mentioned that in connection to the activities of the Civil 20 Engagement Group during India’s G20 Presidency, Vivekananda Kendra is an Institutional Partner and VKIC has been entrusted as one of the Civil Society Organisation (CSO) in C20, with the topic "Diversity, Inclusion, and Mutual respect".
Anchor of the program Ku. Barnali Chakraborty introduced to the audience the Chief Guest and the Guest Speaker, Smt Nandita Gorlosa and Prof. Bhagat Oinam respectively and they were felicitated by Dr Joram Begi , Chairman, VKIC. The respected Sanmanees of 2023, Sri Kakchingtabam Brajamani Sharma and Sri Lakshmi Bhusan Chakma were felicitated by Prof. Parimal Ch. Bhattacharjee, Director, VKIC, and Sri Dipankar Mahanta, Joint Secretary, VKIC respectively.
The citation on Sri Kakchingtabam Brajamani Sharma was read out by Smt. Sharmistha N Paliwal, Member of Executive Council, VKIC and the prestigious VKIC Sanman 2023 was conferred on him by the Chief Guest.
Sri Kakchingtabam Brajamani Sharma while speaking on the occasion emphasised on the influence of the teachings of Bhagawad Geeta in one’s life. He talked about how one should work with zeal and determination, leading to the inevitable and successful outcome of hard work in life. He further spoke about culture, its derivation and implications. He quoted Sri M Venkaiah Naidu, the former Vice President of India who said “Swami Vivekananda was an embodiment of Hindu culture and that is why Swamiji is a unique monk”. He said that any culture is an outcome of a section of people inhabiting for a very long period in a particular landscape or environment. People had to adapt with any specific environment at different stages of their evolution and that is what the present form of culture and its expressions are, which we are seeing today. People having faced various changes of environment by virtue of their existence will have rich culture. But defining the culture of India, it cannot only be defined by its geographical aspects but also of certain form of lifestyle, dresses, food habits and social norms which is collectively called the culture of India..
The citation on Sri Lakshmi Bhusan Chakma was read by Sri Dipankar Mahanta and the VKIC Sanman 2023 was conferred on him by the Honourable Minister. In his acceptance speech, Sri Chakma ji shared about his community which has been residing in three countries of Asia, i.e., India, Myanmar and Bangladesh having rich heritage, culture, tradition, traditional healing systems, etc. but has been divided by international boundaries. The population is so scattered that preserving and practicing their culture becomes difficult which directly threatens their existence. With the community’s large geographical extension and repeated relocation and resettlement, certain variation or deviations crept into their practices heavily. He also mentioned that due to scattered settlement of the Chakmas, they are facing discrimination in different places in the world and they have to struggle for their political rights.
All these had adversely affected their culture, tradition and identity and the community is finding it difficult to sustain their own traditional beliefs, and thus witnessing a dying culture is a disappointing scenario. He mentioned certain instances of the terrible mindsets that took form in the newer generation who are getting alienated completely from the traditional thought processes. And in order to protect of the same he started developing the Chakma script for the coming generation.
On the occasion a VKIC research publication titled ‘Traditional Systems of the Mising Community: Change and Continuity’ was released by the Foundation Day Speaker, Prof. Bhagat Oinam. The host thanked Mising Agom Kebang and Mising Dirbi Kebang, the traditional organizations of the community, without whose support this seminar would not have been possible.
Deliberating on the Foundation Day Lecture on “A phenomenological Reading of Indigenous Faith with special reference to the Northeast India”, Prof. Bhagat Oinam, said that our life, behaviour and thinking are being highly influenced by the Western hegemony ignoring the very essence of our own tradition and hence making the upcoming generation culturally myopic. Referring to Swami Vivekananda, who said that we need to learn from the West about developing the scientific temper but not to forget the ability or capacity of our intuitive knowledge, based on age old experiences that developed over a very long period of time and which has been a stronghold of the cultural folds of our nation. Hence, he said that today’s educated lot should learn to go beyond intellect and reason for experiential learning. He said that we unfortunately imbibe what has been said by the West and made to believe that our practices are baseless and primitive. He said that it is time now to do away with this attitude and learn from our indigenous way of life.
Chief Guest Smt Nandita Gorlosa Hon’ble Minister speaking on the occasion talked about the richness of the biodiversity of the region which was best understood by the indigenous and tribal communities of this region and that there are lot to learn from them to address the emerging challenges in the society and ecology. The Honourable Minister described a few rituals of her own community, Dimasa, about how right after the birth of a child a drop of Judima (traditional rice beer) is fed as the form of blessings of the ancestors. About how by the age of puberty, every Dimasa women learns the art of weaving and also about how the importance of forests is well depicted in the values of indigenous culture. She appealed and emphasized the importance of traditions and customs and congratulated VKIC for such initiatives. Appreciating the works VKIC is doing she invited the institute to come and work for the people in Dima Hasao.
Under the cultural section, a ritual presentation was enacted by the Zeliangrong Heraka Youth and Cultural Organization (ZHYCO), Guwahati Unit. The troupe performed Tingnaimik kiabe lim (Meaning: Paying obeisance to one of the most powerful creation of God, the Sun). The introduction of the community and that of the ritual was done by Ku. Kilunle Newme, and how the community is the follower of freedom fighter and social reformer Rani Ma Gaidinliu. They are the followers of Heraka faith meaning free from all evils and hence ‘PURE’.
The prayer is performed in the early morning of every full moon day and on all important occasion at Kelumki (Mandir). And a dance usually performs by women folk while after fetching water from nearby well before the beginning of festivals and a replication of the same was performed by the ZHYCO troupe.
The Director of VKIC, conveyed his prayers of gratitude and then the programme ended with the Shanti Path.
Whole program recorded and also uploaded on our VKIC YouTube Channel. Watch Now