“Religion Road” a Series of Religious Sites in Changlang District, Arunachal Pradesh, India

Dr. Jürgen Schöpf, ÖAW Phonogrammarchiv SBT

The linguistic diversity of North-east India is one of the highest in the world, and well known among linguists since Grierson's linguistic survey of India in 1904. In the frame work of the DoBeS-Project “The Traditional Songs And Poetry Of Upper Assam – A Multifaceted Linguistic and Ethnographic Documentation of the Tangsa, Tai and Singpho Communities in Margherita, North-east India” we have undertaken a survey in the Kharsang circle of villages of Changlang district, Arunachal Pradesh, during our field work season 2009/2010.

Prepared for the linguistic diversity, we were particularly struck by the religious diversity and how openly it has been displayed by religious sites of different denominations, among which we found Baptist, Presbyterian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Rangfra. It has to be noted that christianity is generally on the rise in this area and many people are recent christian converts. Apparently questions of identity among these communities are dynamically negotiated in the area of religion, however intertwined with language and tribal affiliation.

The presentation will give a general introduction to the (religious) situation in the “seven sister states” as far as relevant to Upper Assam and South-eastern Arunachal Pradesh. The photographic documentation of religious sites along a rural road north of Kharsang will provide the data to a discussion that may center around the issues of identity, religion, and language in Upper Assam's multi-cultural situation.