Seated in a meditative posture on a mat with his right hand raised to impart blessing and long hair secured around the head knotted in a bun, this image can be mistaken for the Hindu deity Shiva or any Hindu yogi, but for its Mongoloid look and tribal attires.
Similar lookalikes of Hindu deities have burgeoned across Arunachal Pradesh as efforts are being made to formalise the indigenous religions of various tribes of the state in a bid to thwart the growing influence of Christianity, which emerged as the largest religion of the state, as per the 2011 Census.
The apparent infusion of Hindu traits in the animistic and shamanic tribal religions of the state does not end only with the conjuring up of physical forms, with uncanny similarities with Hindu deities, for hitherto formless tribal supreme spirits such as Donyi-Polo, Amik Matai Ringya Jawmallu, Rangfra, Nani Intaya, Nyezi-no etc.
Even rituals of worship are being tweaked, with the introduction of practices like the lighting of oil lamps and incense sticks before the image or idols of deities.
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