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A new God in town: RSS on its mission to turn tribals in to Hindus

  • RSS, Religious conversion

    Tangsa tribals pray to their god Rangfraa in a temple at New Chingsa village in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The god took the shape of a mongloid Shiv after a painting competition was held with the support of RSS to give shape and form to the animist spirit of Rangfraa.

  • Miao, Changland, Tutsa

    Miao, a township in Changlang district, is home to several tribes including the Tangsa, Tutsa, Wangcho, Nocte and Singhpho. Almost all of the tribes originally had belief systems based on spirits that governed the world without shape or form. The traditions and lores of origin were passed down generations orally

  • Dehing, Namdhapa Tiger Reserve

    The town sits on the banks of a Dehing river. For outsiders it's also known as the gateway to Namdhapa Tiger Reserve. An easy mix of Assamese and Hindi helps the tribal communities talk to each overcoming the difficulty of multiple languages and dialects that fill the otherwise sparsely populated eastern district

  • Conversion, Christianity

    At one point the region got special protection against the influence (read migrants, traders and missionaries) from outsiders and was declared the North-East Frontier Agency in 1955. It became a full state only in 1987. But many tribes have seen considerable conversion to Christianity in the 70s and 80s especially. In Changlang, tribes such as Tangsa, Nocte, Tutsa moved partially to Christianity. Baptists dominate these belt. Others like Singhpo turned partly to Theravada Buddhism

  • Rangfraa Faith Promotion Society

    L Khimun, the Secretary General of the Rangfraa Faith Promotion Society, is also an executive engineer in the state government. One of the founders of the movement that created a cult/relgion with the the support of RSS creating the Shiv-like form of the Rangfra. At home with sankritised Hindi he expounds on the advantages of having a 'form' and doing away with the old belief system

  • L Khimum, Rangfraa

    L Khimun has written several books on the ‘reformed’ Rangfraa system. These books are now the holy canonical books for the ‘religion’. An oral tradition has been morphed and turned in to a codified cult. He says he was told by Rangfra to write the books. The words came to him. The ideas are adopted from the Christian and Hindu beliefs and ask people to do away with old beliefs in evil spirits. But several talk about the inferiority of Christianity and how nationalism equals Hinduism. Rangfraas are Hindus, it is made clear.

  • Kampa Taisam, Mia, RSS

    Kampa Taisam is the Mia Block President of the Arunachal Vikas Parishad, another off-shoot of the RSS. Along with his brother and wife he makes up the total membership of the Parishad in Miao. For now. His organisation provides funds for medicines and CGI sheets and other help to the tribals. Also helps build the temples and guide with the Rangfraa movement.

  • Nyampong Ngemu, RSS literature

    Nyampong Ngemu (front) and his wife Phoyin Ngemu (right). One of the earlier intellectuals involved in the formation of the society. He explains how creating an ímage of the god helped increase the sense of devotion. Reads RSS literature and other books avidly.

  • Chingsa, medical camps, medicines

    New Chingsa village, with only 84 families, has Christian Tangsa of three denominations and the rest have taken to the new Rangfraa system. Not every one of them visits the Rangfraa temple. In other places violence has broken out earlier between Christian and Rangfraa followers. With a run-down road that becomes impossible to traverse in long monsoon season, villages such as these remain cut off from the fundamentals of life. Villages like these are easy picking for any religious group or organisations ready to provide things like free medicines and medical camps in return for an alteration of faith.

  • Arunachal Vikas Parishad, Rangfra, RSS

    The Arunachal Vikas Parishad gets the lockets made on order for Rs 3.50 and the Rangfraa Faith Promotion Society sells it to the villagers for Rs 5.50. The profit goes in to running the temples and the society. RSS has brought similar changes to tribal cultures and beliefs twice before in Arunachal Pradesh.