Dibrugarh, Assam: The 8th International Conference and Gathering of Elders organised by ICCS (International Center for Cultural Studies) with the theme of “Shared Sustainable P osperity”, which had begun on 28th January, got concluded with the graceful attendance of RSS Sarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale Ji, Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu and Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein.
The Valedictory ceremony started with an auspicious prayer by one Yezidi Elder, which meant, “Thanks to Mother Earth, Birds, Ocean, Sun, Moon, and Star beings that shine, the creator of things, the creator of life. Thanks to participants and organizers for the good thoughts and feelings that happened here. Thanks to our ancestors…”.
Dr. Shashi Bala, President ICCS, Bharat chapter, felicitated the guests and other dignitaries on the dais. Diganta Das, International Coordinator of ICCS, gave a summary note of the conference. The conference was attended by 125 foreign delegates from more than 33 countries representing their ancient traditional wisdom. A picturesque public rally in Dibrugarh was held on January 28 with all these diverse traditions. The total number of delegates to the conference (Indian and foreign) was 400. Academic seminars, workshops and cultural programs with their faith demonstrations were organized during the conference.
The Dibrugarh Declaration was read by a representative from the Yoruba tribe who lives in the United States. The Deputy CM of Arunachal Pradesh, Chowna Mein said that the North East of Bharat has preserved cultural traditions for a long time. The government of Arunachal Pradesh is committed to preserving the culture and tradition of the indigenous people.
“We have increased the budget for development as well as for the preservation of cultural traditions. Localizing school curriculum, digitizing folklore and folksongs, and reviving the system of tribal priests are the major themes of the government of Arunachal Pradesh in the preservation of cultural traditions. We know that Indigenous peoples have preserved ecology and the environment”, he stressed.
“The government of Arunachal Pradesh has collaborated with RIWATCH for the preservation of culture and tradition.” “We must have acknowledged diversity, equality, and inclusion in our tribal society. 100 crores rupees have been budgeted for schools and various other collaborated organizations for the preservation of culture for building an inclusive society”.
The Chief Minister, Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu congratulated ICCS for choosing this theme of “Shared sustainable prosperity” this year. The declaration that has been made will create a harmonious society. Bharat has been the brightest spot in the world economy and will show the way to the world. Arunachal Pradesh has 26 tribes, and many of them have lived in harmony for many centuries. Our age-old traditions shape our lives and give us identity. They are the living encyclopaedias of Arunachal Pradesh. Preservation and promotion of indigenous culture is the government policy of Arunachal Pradesh. The newly inaugurated Greenfield Airport of Itanagar has been named “Donyi Polo Airport” respecting the tradition for the preservation of the indigenous tradition. In Arunachal Pradesh Donyi means Mother Sun and Polo means Moon god as per the local indigenous belief.
Presently, three Gurukuls have been established in Arunachal Pradesh to preserve indigenous tribal traditions. The youth festival for indigenous people is organized every year. Corpus funds to community boards and organizations have also been given. Twenty students have been sponsored to pursue higher education in Pune and documentation of 14 more tribes is underway. Monthly honorariums to 3000 indigenous priests are being given. Government ID cards to registered priests are also being given. Arunachal Pradesh has already received GI tags for 12 products and applications for 16 more such products are also being given.
RSS Sarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale Ji has been a part of ICCS Conferences since 2003 from its first event. He stated, “This movement of global indigenous ancient traditions is flourishing spreading as far as its dimensions and coverage is concerned. Highlighting on the theme of the conference he said, it has the prominent term ‘prosperity’, he said, the question is how should prosperity be sustained for a long time. Prosperity should not happen at the cost of exploitation of Mother Earth.
He gave example from a story of “Samudra manthan”. Lakshmi, that is prosperity, came out of it after lot of churning. Thus, churning is required for prosperity. “We had churning here in the conference for 4 days, from which “Amrit” will come out. Conch (shankh) is the brother of prosperity. Blowing of Conch was particularly done while performing poojas. Our ancient elders have communicated in very gentle way through stories conveying this message to us that prosperity should be sustainable and equitable. Spirituality is a common aspect of ancient traditions. The presence of divinity is seen in every being. The planet provides to everyone sufficiently. Now, it is our responsibility to preserve this divinity. Spirituality is the soul of our culture and tradition. All culture have commonalities. The ancient traditions are the only ones on earth to have recognized feminine divinity. Also, these traditions emphasise family values and sustainable living in common way of life. Reviving tradition, ecological knowledge and collaborative governance are very much required for shared sustainable prosperity. Sustainable development can be ensured only through sustainable consumption. Complementarity is essential for sustainability. Prosperity has to be shared equitably. Earning and distribution have been the core philosophy in every society which are governed by such ancient wisdom.
The Sarkaryavah emphasised three follow-up action points for the conference. Firstly, indigenous tradition and culture are not meant to be preserved in decorative museums like antiques. Ancient wisdom and belief systems are continuous living traditions on earth. Nevertheless, these should be in the mainstream and not to be marginalised. Secondly, indigenous cultures have been experimented for thousands of years on individual and societal lifestyles, thus it is for sure that these are the only ways to save the Mother Earth. This is required for a better and sustainable humanity. Thus, these time-tested wisdom must be passed base on these values to next generation. And thirdly, capacity building is required for each community for fine tuning progress and materialistic development.
Sarkaryavah Ji further stated, “Spirituality means all is one, and everything living or non-living has divinity. All our ancient traditions see divinity in everything, and we accept and practice a life of living together. In Bharat, we say ‘Satahasta Samahara, Sahastra Hasta Bikira,’ meaning earn by a hundred hands and distribute by a thousand hands. Whatever you earn, you need to distribute ten times more. We have to produce for distribution and live by sharing. That is the message of this conference”.
The conference adopted a resolution named ‘Dibrugarh Declaration’ with a three-point agenda – Reviving Traditions, Ecological Knowledge, and Collaborative Governance.
In conclusion, the 8th International Conference and Gathering of Elders provided a platform for diverse cultures to converge, emphasising the importance of preserving ancient traditions, ecological sustainability, and collaborative governance.