Post Mortem

Kumbh Mela and Naga cultural team: A window of opportunity for evangelism

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/17/2019 12:05:34 PM IST

 World’s largest religious festival, the Kumbh Mela, has began in Prayagraj, previously known as Allahabad in UP on the 15th January 2019. And it will end on the 4th March 2019, a 55 days Hindus religious bathing festival at the confluence of the river Ganges, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati.  According to the media report, they are expecting up to 150 million people, including a million foreign visitors. 2019 Kumbh Mela religious festival was organized with an aim to make it a mega event spending an amount of Rs. 4200 crores by the Uttar Pradesh BJP government under the leadership of hindu priest turned Chief minister Yogi Adityanath. This was not the first time Kumbha Mela was held. It has been celebrated over the centuries for the hindus pilgrimage but we Nagas were never attracted by this event until very recently.

This year Kumbh Mela in Allahabad has drawn much of our attention, with a feeling of insecurity and suspicion in our mind. Our local newspapers have reported that about 373 people from Nagaland, probably Naga Christian majority, are participating in 2019 Kumbh Mela festival in Allahabad between January 22 and 24. It was informed that these selected Naga delegates will showcase the Naga cultural heritage in Kumbh Mela during festivals under the initiative of Sanskar Bharati Nagaland (SBN) , and financially sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. The central and UP government has even constructed a simulated Naga “Morung” in the venue to represent Naga culture at Kumbh Mela. This news has ignited many questions among the leaders of the church and also in the minds of the people in Nagaland. What does Kumbh Mela has to do with the Nagas? Do the Naga Christians have any cultural lineage with the Hindu Kumbh Mela bathing festivals? Can’t the Nagas promote their cultural heritage in other festivals of India, rather than Kumbh Mela? Is there any compulsive guideline imposed by the center upon the state leadership? Many unanswered questions are awaiting for a reply. And I am sure many more Naga Christian citizens will raise new issues in this matter. 
In such a time like this one when a staunch Hindu religious party, BJP is ruling India, the invitation of the Naga cultural troupe  to Kumbh Mela does not only create a suspicious attitude in the mind of the Christian Nagas but they also feel threaten. I wish that the state leadership should also have shown their Christian stance clear by saying “No” to this kind of invitation. Ironically, money and power game happened to be more charming than our own faith. And this chemistry might have worked again for the Kumbh Mela decision. But apart from this fear factor or Naga Christian defensive attitude, is there any other way that we can convert this crisis into opportunity for the Lord? 
I believe that Naga “Christians” representing in Kumbh Mela as a cultural troupe has opened a door of opportunity for evangelism, if the participants are “intentional “in this aspect. Officially a Naga contingent of 373 people is going to Kumbh Mela for cultural purposes but they can also be the best representatives for the Kingdom of God if they are convicted by their Christian faith. As we know, in every crisis there is also an opportunity. If one door seems to be closed, God opens the other door for us. Opportunities or crises are all the product of our mindset or attitude to the event. Naga Christians participating in 2019 Kumbh Mela can be taken as the biggest blunder in Naga Christian history for some church members. It can be seen as surrendering of our faith to the Hinduism under the political maneuvering of the BJP. It’s a time of lamentation for many believers in Nagaland. This reaction is also an intrinsic pattern of any religious community. 
(To be concluded)

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