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"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Amid Christian Militant Threats, Hindu Tribals Celebrate Durga Puja

By Pinaki Das, Agartala
06 Oct 2005 ANI

The festival of Durga Puja in Tripura has been a long-forgotten affair as not many Bengalis were left in the state after series of attack on them by tribal militants.

However, the festival is back in the state and, interestingly, it is not the Bengalis who are celebrating it this time but the tribal communities of the area.

The reason told by the tribals for this surprising step is even more interesting: “We miss our Bengali friends,” say the tribals in most of the parts in the state.

The decision to celebrate the ten-day long festival was not a sudden one. Tribals had made their mind to bring the Durga Puja back to the state a year ago. As a result, over ten local clubs had sought permission to erect puja pandals in Jampuijala-Takarjala areas alone, which were once regarded as perfect examples of mixed culture and communal harmony.

And just to add to this surprise, this year the puja in being held even at remote area of Sombariabazar.

Interestingly, this time the festival, idols, decorations and many such things associated with the Durga Puja will witness a touch of tribal art as against the typical Bengali way, says Bikash Debbarma, Secretary, Radiant club.

To mark their return to the festival and celebration world, one of the local clubs organising Durga Puja here is holding a four-day long cultural programme and stage plays named “Abar Phirey Takao” (Turn Back To Us Again).

The celebration of Durga Puja in the state had come to a halt after increased militant activities in bulk part of the state. And in recent times, non-tribal population in major parts here vanished due to this, also taking away the Hindu festivals.

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