Like any other years, the Bible Society of India observed the ‘Tribal and Adivasi Day’ virtually on August 9, 2022. Ms. Elina K. Horo, Founder of Adivasi Women’s Network (AWN) and Inter State Adivasi Women’s Network (ISAWN) and Chief Functionary of Women and Gender Resource Centre (WGRC) was the speaker for the day. The Bible Society of India, being a member of the National Council of Churches in India (hereafter NCCI) adapted the order of worship prepared by the NCCI in our observance of the “Tribal and Adivasi Day/International Indigenous Day”. The theme for this year was “The Role of Tribal and Adivasi Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Indigenous Knowledge”. The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was first pronounced by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1994. By resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People shall be observed on 9th August every year. By following this UN day, on 17 September 2010, during the Annual General Body Meeting of National Council of Churches in India in Bangalore, for the first time the NCCI announced observance of the NCCI-Tribal and Adivasi Sunday. NCCI, therefore, urges and requests constituent members to annually observe every Sunday closest to 9th August as NCCI -Tribal and Adivasi Sunday and the date to be marked in the Church calendar and dairy. In order to have a better understanding of the life situation of the Tribal and Adivasi communities in India and to have a common form of worship for this special Sunday, NCCI therefore brings out this Liturgy. Nevertheless, NCCI acknowledges that many churches do not follow a liturgical form of worship; still NCCI requests those churches to adopt liturgy suitable to their own tradition. At the same time, NCCI is also aware of the absence of Tribal and Adivasi communities in a few churches, yet NCCI requests all those churches to observe this special NCCI Tribal and Adivasi Sunday to show their solidarity with our fellow tribal and adivasi friends who are oppressed and marginalised in various ways. NCCI hopes that the observance of this special NCCI Tribal and Adivasi Sunday will be an enriching one in our faith affirmation and for widening the horizon of our ecumenical Journey. Since 2011, Tribal and Adivasi Sunday have been celebrated in many parts of our country in sensitizing the local congregation on Tribal and Adivasi Concerns. We would like to thank all the churches, dioceses, parishes and institutions for the enormous support we have received in celebrating this special Sunday.
Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko, General Secretary, BSI welcomed the august body and the guest speaker. Staff from the Auxiliaries took active part in the order of service to make it meaningful and blessed.
Ms. Elina K. Horo in her speech reiterated the importance of listening to the wisdom of tribal women, especially elderly women, whose experiences speaks volumes of wisdom and life-skills; she also urged her audience to be mindful of the rights and dignity of the Tribal and Adivasis in our Indian constitutions in order to protect them from all kinds of atrocities meted out to them. Calling the Church and Christian Institutions to work together for increasing awareness of the Tribal and Adivasi issues and be an agent of justice in upholding and respecting their Rights, Preservation and Transmission of Indigenous Knowledge in our Indian society.
BSI Staff nation-wide affirmed their faith with these words:
We believe in God, the source of all life, who invites us to be partners of the creative processes that enhance life; who entrusts us with the responsibility of caring for the earth and everything in it; who delights in justice and righteousness, and detests all kinds of injustices, oppressions and exploitations.
We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born as a human to reveal God’s love by sharing in the life of the suffering communities, protesting against the structures and powers that oppress people, powers and structures that exploit the earth’s resources, and powers and structures that destroy life and breed death.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, who leads us to truth, who inspires us for every good work, and who challenges us to work for the cause of just peace.
We believe in the Church, which is called out to be a community that stands with all who are oppressed, following the way of Christ.
We believe in the interdependence of all God’s creation; humans are not above other creatures but stewards with a responsibility to care and nurture for creation, resisting practices that are life- negating.
Intercessory prayers were offered for the Tribal and Adivasi community of our country.