Demands for official recognition of the Sarna tribal religion have intensified in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand after Hindu groups took soil from sacred Sarna sthals to use in the construction of a temple in Ayodhya.
Some 32 tribal organizations plan to boycott next year’s national census if their demand for recognition of the Sarna religion in the census is not met.
“There is no doubt that we are also included among those 32 organizations because we are tribals first, then Christian. Tribal Christians have always been in favour of the Sarna code and have joined the demand for recognition,” Ratan Tirkey, a member of the Tribes Advisory Committee of Jharkhand, told UCA News.
“Demand for recognition of the Sarna code intensified after the soil-taking incident because that was a conspiracy by Hindu fanatics to divide tribal people in the name of religion.
“Christians are outnumbered by people who practice the Sarna religion in the state, so Hindu fanatics are attempting to alienate Christian tribals by claiming that Sarna tribals belong to Hindu society.
“Sarna tribals are nature worshipers who revere forests, mountains and rivers. They do not belong to any religious sect and their demand for a separate category in the census dates back to the 1990s.”