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Thursday, 9 July 2015

NCCI Tribal and Adivasi Sunday 2015

"Tribals and Adivasis: Custodians of 
God-given land and its ecosystems"

Tribal-Adivasi Sunday will be observed on 9th August 2015. (click here to download the worship order) The NCCI encourages you to celebrate Tribal-Adivasi Sunday as an important expression of our affirmation of and dedication to the gospel: the gospel is for all including Tribals and Adivasis. Many of us, who do not consider ourselves as Tribals/Adivasis, tend to overlook or neglect the importance of indigenous people in the vision and mission of God the creator. Those of us who belong to indigenous communities take our status for granted and therefore do not affirm our special position in God’s plans and purposes. Hence, NCCI appeals to all churches to give the observance of Tribal-Adivasi Sunday its due importance. 

The theme for this year is "Tribals and Adivasis: Custodians of God-given Land and its Ecosystems." This is in tune with the theme of UN’s International Day of Indigenous People, which is “Indigenous Peoples as Custodians of the Land and its Ecosystems.” 

The term “custodian of land and ecosystems” immediately brings to our mind the image of Adam and Eve as custodians of God’s Garden of Eden. Indeed Adam and Eve were indigenous people integrally related to land and all creation. In fact for most indigenous people, land, along with the ecosystem it supports, is the mark of their identity. When lands are submerged because of our development projects, indigenous people experience a vacuum, an emptiness, indeed ‘death’, because their very being and identity is taken away from them. When lands with their forests, rivers, indeed all flora and fauna, are destroyed to make way for concrete jungles and industries, the livelihood of the indigenous people (which is integrally related to their land and eco-system) is also taken away. Most of them are not suited to work in “unnatural” industries and hi-tech systems. They therefore face another 'death.

Today we are becoming increasingly concerned about global warming and the destruction of eco-systems. Scientists are beginning to talk about the onset of the sixth wave of mass extinction on the earth. When the care of mother earth is an emergency mandate, who best could help us to nurture, preserve and protect mother earth but the indigenous people who have lived in harmonious responsible relationships with nature! “The earth is the lord’s and the fullness thereof” says the psalmist. Paul in his epistle to the Romans observes that “all creation has been subjected to futility” . This is because of human greed and their anti-ecological development economies, sciences and technologies. Indeed “creation is groaning for the revealing of the children of God.” Indigenous people are one expression of this revelation as custodians of God-given land and its eco-systems. 

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
General Secretary,
National Council of Churches in India.