Ashes to ashes

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/28/2018 11:13:32 AM IST

 There will be two broad views regarding the recent controversy that arose in Nagaland over the programme for Antim Sanskara (Asthi Visarjan)- immersion under Hindu rites, of the ashes of former prime minister late A.B.Vajpayee in Doyang river under Wokha district by the Nagaland BJP. One view would tend to agree that immersion was a religious sanction and it was best to avoid holding it in any public area belonging to a community whose religious beliefs frown upon such practises and therefore going ahead would amount to intrusion and hurting the religious sentiments of the community. In the same way, Christian rites will not be allowed to be conducted in places belonging to either Hindu or Muslim community in other parts of India unless it is permitted. In the case with Nagaland, the Lothas who follow Christianity, have objected to the ceremony that was proposed to be held in river Doyang. The Lotha Hoho and the Lotha Baptist Church Association (LBCA) have explained their respective views for objecting to the ashes being immersed in Doyang river. The Church’s objection against the immersion was viewed through a religious prism. That same prism also exists with all other religions, especially involving rituals that have religious sanction. Both the Lotha tribe organisation and the church body made it clear that they held late Atal Behari Vajpayee in very high esteem and have no objection if immersion was done in another place except Wokha district. The view through a religious prism, was also echoed by the NBCC including some church organisations. The tribe organisations on the other hand, were opposed to the ritual on the plea that it was to be carried out in tribal land and was taboo under customary practices. The Nagaland BJP attracted flak as it was accused of trying to bend over backwards in order to please its RSS/BJP masters. It must be also pointed out that even the ashes of late Rajiv Gandhi, as per available record, was also immersed in the Dhansiri river in 1991.There was no hue and cry over the immersion at that point of time. Neither did the church nor tribe organisations raise any objection to the programme by the state Congress party. Why is it then that this time, there appeared to be a different yardstick applied to Rajiv vis-a-vis Vajpayee? One thing that needs to be reiterated, is late Atal Behari Vajpayee was equally respected and adored by the people of Nagaland who will remember that he was perhaps, among the most generous of prime ministers for the state. He had sanctioned over Rs.1000 crore for various projects in Nagaland during his October 2003 visit to Kohima. Were the objections because Doyang river was chosen or was it because the present state BJP chief , a professed Christian had allegedly performed a religious ritual while receiving the urn, and so had angered the church? However, this instead, turned into an issue of immersion of the ashes. In Mizoram, the ashes were immersed after Christian prayers. In Nagaland, both the BJP and the church organisations got into an unwanted situation. BJP’s desperation to appropriate Vajpayee’s popularity caused the furore. The church must now raised its voice as much as it did against immersion, over issues that have caused the immersion of Christian faith and values which are destroying society. 


Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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