My most recent visit to Ranchi in Jharkhand, India was the most inspiring of visits. Having completed my book, I still have to write my conclusion. I wanted to wait till after this visit because I would be learning more about a facinating part of their history that they are beginning to celebrate. In 1919 the Adivasi church that my ancestors were instrumental in founding gained its autonomy. One of the first native churches in India, well before national independence, to receive its independence (from missionary control). The intention to have a self-sufficient, self-administrating church was the original intention of the Gossner missionaries, including my great great grandather, Ferdinand Hahn. I attended a conference this time, as the church begins to revisit and revision the significance of this autonomy. I learned a great deal and was glad to be part of such important conversations. I do feel much better prepared to write the conclusion that will reveal that the vision Ferdinand Hahn had for the church and the people to whom he devoted his life, pretty much came to fruition.
While I was there I thought I would see if there were others interested in Preserving our Heritage. When I first came two years ago, I had hoped that I would be able to learn by talking to people about their history. I discovered that many people, like me, had little knowledge of their heritage. Even so I also saw that there was a keen interest in learning their heritage. My hope is that my book, and the books my father translated into English of histories of the church written in German, will open people to discover their own heritage. For in writing about my great great grandfather, I also wrote the story of their heritage. I feel that there is still much more work to be done.
The culture of the Christian Adivasi continues to be predominantly oral. The generation and keepers of the old stories are going away. If this generation does not preserve stories, many of them will be lost. While I was there I met with twelve others who were keen to write more about their heritage, and to create a community of writers that will encourage each other in the process. There are easily twice as men who I met who are keen to join such a community.
I have decided to start a new blog that will follow the journey this writing community from Ranchi will take as they venture into discovering, writing and preserving their heritage stories. Each blog will be from our conversations, with some samples of writing.
Click here to learn more!
Mary Girard with Bishop Nirmal Minz and his wife, Parakleeta, two remarkable leaders of the Adivasi Christians of Jharkhand. They are writer's themselves and have encouraged me much in my pursuit as a writer and have inspired many others. I am an author of my first book that is seeking publication. Among the Original Dwellers: Remembering Ferdinand Hahn, tells of the life story of my great great grandfather who was a missionary from 1868-1910 in Chota Nagpur. In writing his story I discovered the story of the Adivasi of the region who were also impacted by his life. I am now committed to inspiring others to learn and write about their Christian Adivasi heritage.