Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

How India’s Government Is Helping Rebuild Indigenous Faiths


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Sella Benge



India is a land of diverse cultures, traditions, and beliefs. Alongside the major religions like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and Sikhism, the country is also home to a rich tapestry of indigenous faiths which have existed for centuries. These indigenous faiths, often referred to as tribal or folk religions, reflect the unique spiritual practices and customs of different indigenous communities scattered across the country.


Indigenous faiths in India have faced varying degrees of marginalization and neglect over the years. However, in recent times, there has been a growing recognition of their cultural and religious significance. The government of India has taken significant steps to acknowledge, preserve, and breathe new life into these ancient traditions.


From recognizing indigenous faiths as an integral part of Indian culture to implementing policies that foster their revival and preservation, the government has played a crucial role in rebuilding these ancient spiritual traditions. This article explores the history of indigenous faiths in India, the government’s efforts to support them, the challenges they face, and the success stories that demonstrate the impact of these revival initiatives.


History of indigenous faiths in India

The history of indigenous faiths in India can be traced back to ancient times when the land was inhabited by numerous tribal communities. These indigenous communities had their unique belief systems, rituals, and deities. The worship of nature, ancestors, and spirits formed the core of their spiritual practices.


As invaders and foreign rulers arrived in India over the centuries, the indigenous faiths faced significant challenges. The dominant religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, exerted their influence, leading to the assimilation and syncretism of indigenous beliefs and practices. As a result, many indigenous faiths became marginalized and pushed to the fringes of society.


However, despite the challenges, these indigenous faiths managed to survive, albeit in small pockets across the country. Over time, they have continued to evolve and adapt, incorporating influences from other religions and cultures.


India’s independence in 1947 marked a turning point in the country’s history, including a renewed focus on inclusivity and cultural diversity. This led to a growing recognition of the importance of indigenous faiths as essential components of India’s rich heritage.


Today, indigenous faiths in India continue to be practiced by millions of people, particularly among tribal communities. These faiths are characterized by their reverence for nature, emphasis on community harmony, and a deep-rooted connection to their ancestral traditions.


The resurgence of interest in indigenous faiths is not only due to cultural revival but also a rejection of the homogenizing effects of globalization and a search for identity and meaning rooted in local traditions.


Government recognition and support

The government of India has acknowledged the cultural and religious significance of indigenous faiths and has taken proactive measures to support and revive these ancient traditions. This recognition and support have been instrumental in preserving the cultural diversity and heritage of the country.


One crucial step taken by the government is the inclusion of indigenous faiths in the official category of Scheduled Tribes (STs). This recognition grants certain constitutional rights and benefits to these communities, ensuring both their social and economic development.


Additionally, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has been established to safeguard the rights and interests of tribal communities, including those practicing indigenous faiths. The commission acts as a bridge between the government and the indigenous communities, ensuring that their concerns and needs are effectively addressed.


Furthermore, the government has introduced various initiatives to support the revival and preservation of indigenous faiths. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs, in collaboration with state governments, has implemented programs aimed at documenting and protecting traditional knowledge, sacred sites, and cultural practices associated with these traditions.


Government-sponsored cultural festivals and events showcase the richness of indigenous faiths, providing a platform for practitioners to share their traditions with a wider audience. These events also promote intercultural understanding and appreciation among different communities.


Moreover, the government has played an active role in promoting education about indigenous faiths. Efforts have been made to include the study of these traditions in school curricula, ensuring that the younger generation is aware of and respects the diversity of spiritual practices in India.


Through these measures, the government aims to empower indigenous communities and enable them to preserve and practice their faiths freely, without fear of discrimination or marginalization.


The government has also collaborated with various national and international organizations, NGOs, and research institutions to promote the research and documentation of indigenous faiths. This allows for a deeper understanding of these traditions and helps in the development of sustainable and inclusive policies.


By providing recognition, support, and resources, the government of India has taken significant steps to revive and protect the indigenous faiths that form a vital part of the country’s cultural and spiritual heritage.


Revival and preservation initiatives

The revival and preservation of indigenous faiths in India have been propelled by various initiatives undertaken by the government and other stakeholders. These efforts aim to safeguard the rich cultural heritage associated with these traditions and ensure their continuity for future generations.


One significant initiative is the establishment of cultural centers and museums dedicated to indigenous faiths. These institutions serve as repositories of knowledge, artifacts, and exhibits that showcase the beliefs, rituals, and customs of different indigenous communities. They provide a platform for practitioners to not only preserve and display their traditions but also educate the public about their significance.


The government has also supported community-led initiatives to revive indigenous faiths. Grants and funding have been provided to organize festivals, cultural events, and rituals that are integral to these traditions. These events not only celebrate the diversity of indigenous faiths but also bring together practitioners from different communities, fostering a sense of unity and pride.


In addition to cultural events, the government has recognized the importance of preserving sacred sites associated with indigenous faiths. These sites hold immense spiritual significance and are often associated with mythological and historical narratives. Efforts have been made to protect and conserve these sites, ensuring that they are respected and accessible for worship and pilgrimage.


Education plays a vital role in reviving and preserving indigenous faiths. The government has supported the establishment of schools and educational institutions in tribal areas that incorporate the teaching of indigenous faiths and their cultural practices in the curriculum. This helps to transmit traditional knowledge to younger generations and instill a sense of pride and identity in their heritage.


Collaboration between indigenous communities, scholars, and researchers has been encouraged to document and study the various aspects of indigenous faiths. This research not only contributes to a deeper understanding of these traditions but also helps in the development of policies and programs that effectively address the needs and aspirations of these communities.


Furthermore, digital platforms and online resources have been utilized to promote and preserve indigenous faiths. Websites, social media campaigns, and mobile applications provide a platform for practitioners to share their knowledge and experiences, reaching a wider audience and fostering a sense of inclusivity and pride.


These revival and preservation initiatives not only contribute to the continued existence of indigenous faiths but also foster cultural diversity, intercultural harmony, and respect for all religious traditions in India.


Role of government agencies and organizations

Achieving the revival and preservation of indigenous faiths in India requires collaboration between various government agencies and organizations. These entities play a crucial role in developing and implementing strategies to support and sustain these ancient traditions.


The Ministry of Culture, along with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, has been at the forefront of promoting indigenous faiths. They provide the necessary policy framework and financial support to initiatives aimed at safeguarding the cultural heritage of indigenous communities.


The National Museum and the National Archives of India work closely with indigenous communities to document and preserve the history, artifacts, and oral traditions related to these faiths. They play a crucial role in curating exhibitions and educational programs that promote awareness and appreciation.


The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is responsible for identifying and protecting archaeological sites associated with indigenous faiths. Its efforts ensure the preservation of sacred locations, ancient temples, and other structures that hold immense cultural and spiritual significance for these communities.


Another key organization is the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), which acts as a bridge between the government and indigenous communities. It facilitates communication, addresses grievances, and advocates for the rights and welfare of tribal communities, including those practicing indigenous faiths.


Several NGOs and grassroots organizations have emerged to support the revival of indigenous faiths. These organizations work closely with tribal communities, providing resources, training, and advocacy to help them preserve their cultural heritage and revitalize their spiritual practices.


One such organization is the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED), which aims to enhance the livelihoods of tribal communities through the promotion and marketing of their traditional products, including those associated with indigenous faiths.


Additionally, the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) supports research initiatives that explore the history, cultural practices, and narratives of indigenous faiths. The findings of these studies contribute to a deeper understanding of these traditions and inform policy decisions.


The collaborative efforts between government agencies, organizations, and indigenous communities are critical for the sustained revival and preservation of indigenous faiths. Together, they ensure that these ancient traditions thrive and continue to enrich the cultural fabric of India.


Challenges and obstacles faced

The revival and preservation of indigenous faiths in India face various challenges and obstacles that hinder their progress. These challenges arise from both internal and external factors, which often require concerted efforts to overcome.


One major challenge is the erosion of traditional knowledge and practices. As indigenous communities face modernization and globalization, there is a risk of losing ancestral knowledge and rituals. The younger generation may be increasingly disconnected from their cultural heritage, leading to a decline in the transmission of indigenous faiths.


Socioeconomic factors also pose challenges. Many indigenous communities face poverty and marginalization, resulting in limited access to resources and educational opportunities. This can impact their ability to preserve and practice their faiths, as there is often a lack of infrastructure and support systems in place to sustain these traditions.


Moreover, the dominance of major religions in India can pose challenges to the revival of indigenous faiths. There may be prejudices or misconceptions associated with these faiths, leading to discrimination or marginalization. In some cases, indigenous communities may face pressure to assimilate into mainstream religions, which can lead to the dilution of their unique traditions.


Environmental degradation and encroachment also threaten sacred sites and natural spaces associated with indigenous faiths. Rapid urbanization and industrialization can lead to the destruction of forests, rivers, and mountains that hold immense spiritual significance. This loss of sacred spaces affects the ability of practitioners to connect with nature and perform rituals integral to their faiths.


Political apathy and lack of funding can further impede the efforts to revive indigenous faiths. Limited awareness and understanding of the importance of these traditions among policymakers can result in inadequate support and resources. Lack of representation and proactive measures can hinder the progress of revival initiatives.


Additionally, the diversity within indigenous faiths poses a challenge to their revival. Each community has its unique beliefs, practices, and languages, making it challenging to develop comprehensive approaches that cater to the specific needs of different groups.


Overcoming these challenges requires a multi-faceted approach that involves the active involvement and collaboration of indigenous communities, government agencies, organizations, and society at large. It necessitates raising awareness, providing support systems, empowering indigenous communities, and creating an inclusive environment where diverse faiths can coexist and flourish.


Success stories and impact

The efforts to revive and preserve indigenous faiths in India have yielded significant success stories and had a profound impact on both the communities practicing these faiths and the broader society.


One notable success story is the revival of traditional healing practices associated with indigenous faiths. Many tribal communities have managed to reclaim and revive their traditional medicinal knowledge, which emphasizes the use of herbs, plants, and natural remedies. This has not only improved healthcare access for these communities but has also led to a broader appreciation of indigenous wisdom among the general population.


Another success story lies in the recognition and celebration of indigenous festivals and cultural events. These celebrations have gained prominence and attract visitors from around the world, providing economic opportunities for indigenous communities. Moreover, they foster a sense of pride and identity among the practitioners and help in the preservation of cultural heritage.


The inclusion of indigenous faiths in school curricula has had a significant impact on the younger generation. It has allowed them to gain knowledge and understanding of the diverse spiritual practices in India, fostering a respect for cultural diversity. This has resulted in greater appreciation for indigenous faiths and a sense of unity among different religious communities.


Furthermore, the revival of sacred sites and pilgrimage routes associated with indigenous faiths has brought economic benefits to local communities. These sites, once neglected, now attract visitors from all over the world, leading to the development of tourism infrastructure and the creation of employment opportunities for indigenous communities.


The preservation and dissemination of traditional art forms associated with indigenous faiths have had a transformative impact on the communities involved. Through government support and initiatives, these art forms, such as music, dance, and craftwork, have been revived and showcased on national and international platforms. This not only helps in the economic empowerment of artists but also contributes to the preservation of cultural heritage.


Moreover, the recognition and support from the government have increased the visibility and representation of indigenous communities. This has resulted in a stronger sense of belonging and empowerment among these communities, encouraging them to actively participate in decision-making processes and advocate for their rights.


Overall, the revival and preservation of indigenous faiths in India have not only revitalized ancient traditions but also contributed to the cultural diversity and inclusivity of the nation. These efforts have fostered a sense of pride, belonging, and empowerment among indigenous communities, ensuring the continued existence and vibrancy of their faiths for generations to come.



The revival and preservation of indigenous faiths in India reflect the country’s commitment to celebrating cultural diversity, fostering inclusivity, and safeguarding its rich spiritual heritage. The government has played a crucial role in recognizing the cultural and religious significance of these traditions and providing support for their revival.


Through initiatives such as the inclusion of indigenous faiths in official categories, the establishment of cultural centers and museums, and collaboration with indigenous communities and organizations, the government has taken significant steps to ensure the continuity and preservation of these ancient traditions.


Despite the challenges faced, including the erosion of traditional knowledge, socio-economic limitations, and the dominance of major religions, there have been notable success stories. The revival of traditional healing practices, recognition of festivals and cultural events, inclusion in school curricula, restoration of sacred sites, and the preservation of art forms have all had a positive impact on the communities practicing indigenous faiths.


These revival efforts have not only empowered indigenous communities but also enriched the cultural fabric of India. They have fostered a deeper understanding and appreciation for the cultural diversity and spiritual heritage of the country. Moreover, they have contributed to the economic development of indigenous communities through tourism and the promotion of traditional art forms.


Moving forward, it is essential to continue supporting and nurturing the revival and preservation of indigenous faiths. This can be done through sustained government initiatives, increased collaboration between stakeholders, and a continued focus on education and awareness. Additionally, it is crucial to address the challenges of globalization, environmental degradation, and marginalization that these communities face.


By fostering an environment of inclusivity, respect, and support, India can continue to celebrate the unique spiritual traditions of its indigenous communities. The journey towards reviving and preserving indigenous faiths is not only a testament to the cultural richness of the country but also a commitment to honoring and preserving the diverse tapestry of beliefs that make India truly extraordinary.