Mizoram - the land of over 80 religious sects

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Aizawl, Apr 20 (UNI) Mizoram has witnessed countless revival movements since times immemorial, resulting in the widespread diversity within Christianity, the dominant religion being adhered to by the majority of the people in the state.

While one of the sects moved eastwards in fear of a ''rock'' which was believed to ''roll down from the east'', some migrated to Israel, and even to Bangladesh to be pushed back by the Shanti Bahini.

Church historians have observed that revival movements have contributed immensely to the growth of Christianity in Mizoram compared to other Christian-dominated states in India and the North East.

The fact that it took barely 50 years for the entire Mizo community to embrace Christianity, then a totally alien religion, has been attributed to the revival movements.

''The phenomenal success of Gospel preaching in Mizoram was brought about through the revival movements,'' Reverend Lalsawma of the Mizoram Presbyterian Church said.

The first European missionaries arrived at Aizawl (then Aijal) in 1894, and 12 years later, revival movements effecting mass conversions started.

Wave upon wave of revival swept the land until the entire Mizo community abandoned its old religion, animism, for the new religion, Christianity before the end of World War II.

However, the revival outgrowth has its negative side too. Every revival wave generated a tendency towards spiritual excesses resulting into deviations from the central teaching and guidance of the Church, Rev Lalsawma said.

The history of Christianity in Mizoram clearly testifies to this truth. Now, besides the different major Christian denominations such as the Presbyterian (the largest in the state), Baptist, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist, Methodist and Pentecostal, Mizoram is home to as many as 80 religious sects, including Zionist groups, who have converted from Christianity to Judaism.

According to church historians, the first deviation came with the second wave of revival starting from 1913, with the teaching of Tlira who was seriously affected by a revival. Since then, different types of sects sprouted and faded into oblivion.

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