Christianity, COVID-19, and Marginal People of Bangladesh: An Experience From the Santal Community

Christianity, COVID-19, and Marginal People of Bangladesh: An Experience From the Santal Community

Parimal Roy (Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre, Bangladesh), Jahid Siraz Chowdhury (University of Malaya, Malaysia), Haris Abd Wahab (University of Malaya, Malaysia), Mohd Rashid Bin Saad (University of Malaya, Malaysia) and Suma Parahakaran (American University of Sovereign Nations, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7480-5.ch005
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This chapter aims to discuss the correlation between Indigeneity and Christianity in the context of Bangladesh's Santal community during this pandemic C-19. Methodologically, this study informs the Indigenous research paradigm. As instruments, this study adopted interviews, observational fieldwork, and sharing circle for primary data collection. Authors scrutinized census reports and other governmental and NGO reports for secondary information. Findings show that the Christian commonwealth faith has been very predominant during this pandemic among the Santals. Collaboration among the churches, NGOs, and government is recommended for the new normal and further crisis management.
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Introduction: A Pluralistic Society

“…it is believed that St. Thomas, the apostle introduced Christianity in south India in 52 AD” (Neil, 2004 in Debnath, 2010, p.185, emphasis ours).

Bangladesh is a pluralistic society if we track history since Ashokathe great. From the tolerant Buddhist Pala monarchy to the promoters of the BramninicalSena king, the pluralistic Bengali community witnessed the religious encountering of native Indian religions. Before that, nothing was

specified regarding Bengal’s heritage until it was a portion of the Maurya Empire throughout King Ashoka’s reign (269-232 BC). Even though Ashoka was turned to Buddhism, the Pala dynasty (8th to 11th centuries AD) founded by Gopal, a Khashtriya rebel commander of Varenda; Buddhism became the official religion Bengal (Eaton, 1993; Van Schendel, 2004; 2020; Kuru, 2019). The Pala dynasty’s social and religious makeup reflected the different faith composition. Let’s take a look at the landscape. The preceding were not always Kullinism’s flag bearers, but they were also hostile to Buddhist worship and monuments. With the advent of Islam in 1204, when Bakhtiar Muhammad Khilj demolished King Laksha Sen this chapter of Buddhist persecution came to an end. As a foreign faith, Islam drew a large number of native converts. This conversion opened the way for syncretism to flourish. This conversion opened the way for syncretism in the form of neoconservative spirituality and the clarification of Muslim culture into Ashrafs and Athraf, contrary to Islamic teachings on race equality (Eaton, 1993). This syncretistic stance was supplemented by Christian missionary exclusivist approaches that opposed other religions in general and Hinduism to retain the Christ sphere. Serampore trio and Alexander Duff are two of these missionaries who deserve special recognition (Kuru, 2019; Khan, 2017; Tharoor, 2018). Many are blaming Christianity as a civilizing mission (Isam, n.d). However, when people are at stake, lives are at risk, raising the voice with a religious tone…..?

“Are they Hindus or Muslims?” Who is that question?

Captain! People are drowning, my child is beating! (From Srbohara1)

The Rebelled poet, who was jailed for his poetry, wrote this in 1926. Yet about a hundred years, during this Covid-19, we find the essence in this when the human being is our priority:the human’s belief system?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Dikku: Outsiders.

Atusagai: Village oneness.

Community: The Santal.

Manjhi: The village headman.

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