Nagaland Government has announced a new programme called ‘Holy Land tours and pilgrimages’.
Presenting the budget on March 23, CM Neiphiu Rio, who holds the finance portfolio, informed that detailed guidelines will be set up to enable citizens to visit the ‘Holy land.’ The government would part-sponsor the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he added.
‘The Holy Land,’ spreading through present day Israel, Palestine and adjoining areas, is revered by Christians as the place in which Jesus Christ lived and taught, and many sites are considered sacred pilgrimage destination for the faithful.
Many locations in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, River Jordan and Nazareth are intimately associated with the religion. ‘The Holy Land,’ is equally considered sacred by other Abrahamic religion such as Judaism and Islam.
Incidentally, religious appeasement was one of the major electoral plank of the national political party like the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress in Christian-Majority Nagaland when the state went to poll in February.
For BJP, it was a step to counter the ‘anti-Christian tag’ as well as apprehension over ‘Hindutva’ ideology. The Congress, on the other hand, incorporated the promise on its manifesto, reports The Morung Express.
Before the poll, Chief Minister and NDPP leader Neiphiu Rio was quoted as saying “Many people are capable, they have been going to Jerusalem at their own expense, but our government can come forward and facilitate those programmes. I think it is for the religious leaders to accept or not, but it is showing good gesture and showing their open mind and respecting their religion.”
The present announcement of ‘Holy Land tours and pilgrimages,’ thus, can be considered a fulfilment of the electoral promise.