Halloween party ideas 2015

By Lalmalsawm Sungte

Religion is like a fire, if we do not tend it properly it will burn us down.

The desire to be the one nearer and closest to God has driven the Hmar society to the level of personification of the almighty. For instance, a brief peek at every Christmas celebrations, a short glance at popular gospel music videos and even pictorials which impart lessons to children are full of the so-called "Isu lim" (Christ's picture). Everywhere one can see these pictures and images of "Isu". Some people even took pride in having a huge gold-framed picture of "His Holiness" in their common rooms! Is the Hmar society reverting to her animism way of worshipping?

Recent trends have shown that the Hmar society is definitely going the idolise way. A mentioned may be made of one gospel music video prepared by a popular Hmar gospel artiste where the supposedly images of Christ was shown for a record number of 15 times! The video even showed her kneeling down in front of the pictures. The wonder of wonders was that nobody in the church administration even raise objection to that video presentation.

In another pro-image Christ campaign, there was one book written by a well known writer— if not famous— which has pictures of "Christ" on many pages! Surprise, surprise that's not all, many events go 'unnoticed' as people have become callous by continuous exposure to such kind of images.

If somebody were to asked us what is our perception on the appearance of Christ. Most of us will have an image of Christ as a "long bearded man who wears a loose clothing tied together with a robe."

The method we have chosen to educate and christianise our children and others over the last three decades clearly shows that the church is indirectly supporting idolism, though unknowingly.

Religion in the Hmar society was a private affair in the pre-christian world— though there were special occasions for public worship of 'khuonu'. Most rituals were performed by the head of the family without much fanfare. Today, the sense of realism has become so strong that it is now "necessary" for many youths to buy "pictures of Christ" and decorate their houses during festivities.

In 2006, one church in Churachandpur town had this so-called 'picture' of Christ — during Christmas celebration — on the wall of the church and strangely nobody objected it. Instead, some were heard saying, "A va nal de aw... A lim en ringot khomin ha a dam rawng rawng el chu tie... (Even by simply looking at His picture one is divinely comforted)."

These kind of example is found everywhere. They showed that the Hmar society is witnessing the initial process worshiping images. If this go unchecked or un-addressed for another ten years or so many of us will be witness to the "great looking" images of Christ inside many of the Hmar churches.

A well oiled-tongue preacher in a general conference at Parbung village once said: If you want Jesus to be near you always. I said always... (he repeated) reserved a place for Him in your heart. The next thing is make the Bible your best friend. An lastly, if you can't do the two, at least carry a picture of Christ or a cross!"

Some people in the back benches began to murmur among themselves while trying to remain calm in front of the famous preacher. After the service some women were overheard saying: The Three Ways of being getting nearer to God suggested by our preacher was really amazing.

Two weeks later, after the conference, three women, highly religious— by Churachandpur standard— who had attended the conference, were discussing among themselves on the Three Ways of being near to God. One women said, "What the preacher said was really true. I tried to keep Christ in my mind for every second, but I can't do it. I have to think about my work, my husband (everyone grinds)... Secondly, I could not make the Bible my best friend as I cannot not read... So, I got myself a big poster of "Christ" from Tuithaphai which I now hung in my house. At least whenever I see 'His' picture it reminds me that He is always with me."

One may or may not be convinced by the woman's story but the truth is she has found a new way to re-connect her spiritual life with Christ! Whether it is right or wrong to suggest such method is a question which will take all the years of the earth to answer.

This story clearly suggests that the Hmar society is prone towards idol worship which the Hmar churches professes strongly against it. Suggesting actions against such preaching is not in the scheme of a democratic setup as every individual has their own right to preach and belief in what and how they want it. However, this set of people happens to be the "most religious" people in the society. This certainly is a cause for concern.

The emergence of images in Church activities is not local. It is universal. It is also not a recent development. As afr as the Hmar society is concern the role of images can be traced back to the early 1980s when churches began using pictorial representations to simplify propagation process. As years roll by it is now deeply rooted.

There was an incident in Bethel- Khawmawi village of Churachandpur district in the early 90's. Two boys were asked to clean the floor underneath an elevated bamboo floor. As they crawled under the small gap below and began sweeping off the dust and other waste, one boy found a postcard-sized "picture of Christ" covered dust and cobwebs. He took home, wiped it clean and placed it between his little Bible. On reaching his 13th birthday he found the "real Christ" but he found that it was not easy to get rid of "His picture". So, he had kept in his purse until his 18th birthday!

Such is the strength of the power of images. Later, it came to be known that the boy was reluctant to throw away the "precious picture of Christ" simply because his aunt had told him to respect "pictures of Christ".

It has been rightly said a picture is worth a thousand words. This must be why it is so easy to be influence by pictures. Pictures gives near-real feelings and we tend to communicate with them, though most of the time unknowingly. That must be why the Israelites committed many idol worship against the wish of God.

"People tend to go for things that will remind them of their weakest point to make them strong. Pictures and images are good reminders. They put us on our guard," said a study conducted by a group of Norwegian psychologists. If this study is true, the 'religious' Hmars' greatest weakness is surely religion and in the process to strengthen our faith we begin to feel the need of something that will always reminds us of Christ. And that solution we have adopted is none other than using images and pictures.

Religion at one point of time was the strongest fulcrum levering the Hmar society to great heights. Unfortunately, today, no one, truly, will be in denial mood that the days of the Thangngurs and Lungpuas is over. Religion has become one of the weakest Hmar social setup.

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