Thanks to all who followed my photoessay documentation of my Heritige Trip on FaceBook. I had every intention of posting on this blog, but unfortunately the strength of WiFi coverage was not so good and so there were extreme limits to what weebly could do. Now that I am fully on line I hope to do a summary of the trip which was only partly about researching my family roots in India, partly connecting to my own connections, and discovering India as it is today.
In regards to the research I would have to say that a primary theme underscoring the whole experience was "Where are the women's voices?" It began on one of the first days in Ranchi when I was shown a very treasured book of the 50th anniversary of the Gossner Mission in what was then called Chotanagpur (today Jharkhand). I was glad to find this photo of the missionaries in 1871, soon after Doris and Ferdinand were married in Christ Church in Ranchi. They are on the far right of the picture. Doris brother, who had not yet married is the 4th from the left man standing. And then 4th man to the right of him is Alfred Nottrott, who also may still have been single. All these men are part of the story that i will be telling. Note that all the men are named in the picutre, but not their wives. There were a few pictures of women clearly doing some of the mission work, but with little discription.
This discovery pointed to me early that I would be hard pressed in India to find more information about the story of the missionary women. I am hoping that I will have better luck in Germany. It also is a matter that much is in old German and I am limited in my comprehension of what is written.
I would also discover that the story of the adivasi people, both men and women, also are hard to find. Here the matter is primarily due to an oral tradition. Within families, I am told the stories of their family and clan are passed on. But with a generation being raised in the age of mass media those stories, are at risk of being loss.
Whereever I went in Jharkhand, people were very happy that I was writing a history of their early history. They were even more inspired when I encouraged them in the art of storytelling and in the preservation of their stories. I tell the youth to record the stories of their mothers and grandmothers. For there will be a unique telling through their eyes. When I had opportunity I encouraged the recording of stories, and sharing of stories to revive a greater understanding of the hisorical legacy for future generations. I discovered many writers who are in the process, and I hope to be part of creating an anthology to bring these stories together.
Despite the pull and tug of modernization I was grateful to see how dance, drum, and song continued to be reinforced in the churches. [1/2 of Adivasi in the region are Christians].and the schools. Even while we were in Ranchi, the central government passed a law that permitted students to take exams in their native tongues In rural areas the tribal languages are still spoken. But many are having to learn the tongue of their ancestors in college. Still there is a push now to make sure songs and dances are known and led by the young people
The first sunday in Ranchi was Women's Sunday. The significance of that wasn't lost on me. As I watched the Hindu and Muslim boys play cricket in the maidan (open field) behind the church I wondered what impression they had hearing the voices of women cast over their game from the loud speakers. Every religious group blasts over loudspeakers their call to worship, songs and sermons. On particular days when there is a cross over of important ceremonies the sound in the air can become quite a cocophany. But typically they take turns. So on Sunday there are five services coming from the big red church in the center of town. On Woman's sunday all the songs and sermons were given by women. No other religious group has the voice of women on the loud speakers, except occassionally some woman's voices are amidst the singing chants of the devoted from a Hindu or Jain temple. Still even in the church, that permits women pastors and preachers, I often pointed out that the women working behind the scenes are often over looked.
I will be traveling and visiting India, with my Father. Our primary destination in India is Ranchi, Jharkhand. We will also visit other towns and cities in that north-eastern region as well as other places in India.