There is a strong move to bring in the Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan notions of nationhood under the present BJP dispensation. Recently an absurd idea of dressing up the image of India through the religio-cultural symbol of Bharat Mata (Mother India) in tribal attire so as to appease the tribes and draw them into this thought process, has gained traction. The image of Bharat Mata in the Tripura tribal attire has been doing the rounds. Soon the image of Bharat Mata in the jainsem or the dakmanda will circulate. This attempt at political enculturation is alarming. The ‘tribals’ of the North East follow their indigenous faith which is not Hinduism. To equate that indigenous faith which is largely animistic and connected to nature worship than to Hinduism and its plethora of gods and goddesses shows a lack of depth of understanding the tribal worldview. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, has tried to absorb the cultural traits of its adherents across countries and cultures in what is known as the process of ‘enculturation’ where the social norms, values, behaviours and language of the people who have accepted the faith are embedded as part of the worship rituals. Hence Christianity is indigenized instead of having to emulate a western model of worship. It is a different matter that some Christian preachers have denounced the tribal practices as “paganism” and influenced the tribes to give up their indigenous worship practices.
However, Christianity has remained in the realm of the spiritual and has not tried to claim a political space. The idea of Bharat Mata which is symbolized by a Hindu Goddess, as a symbol of nation may not go down too well with the tribes. The BJP is trying to bring about a process of acculturation where it expects tribals to accept the idea of a Bharat Mata dressed in their attire. This cannot possibly endear the Party to the tribals.