Meet India’s ‘Raelians’ - The Cult Who Claims Aliens Created Us All

Artwork by Anjul Dandekar
Artwork by Anjul DandekarAnjul Dandekar

What is the proper way to react when one tells you human beings were created by a benevolent race of extra-terrestrial beings (read: aliens) who is referred to as Elohim? In most societies, our options are somewhat limited–it’s a choice between laughing it off and labelling it a joke, concluding this person is a ‘cult freak’ or assuming you heard wrong. Very few would encourage you to consider it a legitimate possibility and actually question and analyse the information presented to you. Raelians, however, would. Welcome to the wonderfully alternate world of ‘Raelism,’ a sect founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon, which has only found its way to India more recently. At the time our interest was most piqued, we couldn’t find a contact right to them, but as luck would have it they reached out to us themselves. The rest, as they say, is history. Just not the one you’ve been taught about your entire life.

In The Beginning

The founder claims to have met with alien beings who gave him the knowledge needed to start the cult known as Raelism today, back in 1973. In a video released about the encounter, it is said, “he was a small man, about 4 feet tall, beautiful, with long black hair, a small beard, superb dark almond shaped eyes and a radiating smile. They talked. Claude was invited into the craft and over the next 6 days, for an hour each day, the extra-terrestrial dictated to him a series of messages both clear and revolutionary.”

While this sentence itself seems to turn most people off without a further explanation, those who have stayed on to listen to the whole message and freely conduct their own research, seem to say otherwise. Rishi Gangoly, one of the leaders of the Indian Raelian movement spoke to us on the same. “I first came to know about Raelism in 2015, when Dr. Jack King on a conference call asked me to look at for information on UFOs and beings from another planet. I had watched an interview of his in 1988 on a television show, which made me feel that Rael’s message was authentic. Before I dismissed him or the message as idiotic, I decided to read the book and then decide.”

The Hypocrisy Of Comparison

The cult revolves around a fairly peaceful understanding, in simple words, that life on our planet earth was created by aliens. Or rather, as their website puts it more eloquently, “Scientists from another planet came to Earth, created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image. References to these scientist and their work can be found in the ancient texts of many cultures. Due to their highly advanced technology, they were considered as gods by our primitive ancestors and often referred to as ‘Elohim’ which in ancient Hebrew meant ‘Those who came from the sky’.”

Before you dismiss the claims in entirety, there’s something to be said for the improbabilities we find in just about any religious text, ancient or otherwise. We live in a world where millions of people believe that an “evil alien ruler Xenu killed millions of aliens (Thetans) from around the universe by kidnapping them, bringing them to earth in golden DC-8 “space-planes” & blowing them up inside volcanoes with hydrogen bombs,” as part of Scientology’s beliefs, or that biological impulses like masturbation can land you in eternal hell or elephant gods who rode a mouse. So why is this any more far-fetched?

And why is it considered so crazy to question just how the Egyptians built the pyramids that stood the test of time with their primitive technology? At the end of the day, Raelism just brought their own version of the truth to that table. But unlike all the others, they don’t claim to have all the answers, or that their truth is the ultimate truth.

“Till date, if you ask me what my belief is, I will say, I don’t believe in anything because the definition of the word ‘believe’ is to accept that something is true, especially without proof,” says Rishi. “However, I am spreading this message because it resonates with me. I feel that it could be true. I may not have any proof but it makes sense and is quite probably based on all I have seen or heard since I was born.” It’s this atmosphere of individualism and a right to question that many followers find most appealing.

Religious Rituals And ‘Customs’ Or A Lack Thereof

Raelism has no ‘religious customs’ except a mere suggestion to their members to meditate for a minute daily. Member initiations are conducted at ceremonies held four times a year: The first Sunday of April, 6 August, 7 October and 13 December. For those who want to be ‘baptised’ or inducted into the world of Raelism, a “guide’ puts his or her hand on the forehead of the person wishing to be baptized in order to transfer the baptized person’s “genetic information” to extraterrestrials. The ceremony can only occur between 3 and 4 p.m. They believe that at this particular time, there is a spaceship that records what is happening. When asked if there was a book that members referred to for ‘guidelines’ as such, Rishi explains, “We have a book called, ‘Intelligent Design - Message from the Designers.’ It is packed with information and a story that’ll incite wonder within anyone who reads it!”

In addition to all of the above, Raelians seem to strongly support a sense of complete individualism and a lack of rigidity. Rael parents are not supposed to force their beliefs on their children, and their marriages have a positive outlook towards future divorces. Damian Marsic, a Raelian guide, told Time Magazine that “the idea is for people to commit themselves to keep a high level of love and harmony between them and to have the wisdom to separate before this level of harmony decreases too much.”

On Outside Perceptions

Of course, no UFO cult can fly under bad press’ radar and Raelism doesn’t fall short in that category. Several critics have claimed the cult has built itself up on no scientific merit, and Rishi says that people tend to look at their movement like it’s a whole bunch of mumbo-jumbo (a fair accusation perhaps given its lack of scientific proof). Throw in a human cloning controversy and the press had a field day.

It is here their staunch individualism (this often translates to a complete nonchalance towards others’ perception about them) holds them in good stead. “We’re not here to force anyone,” says Rishi. “We’re just here to pass on this message and let people decide for themselves what they want to do with this information at hand. The explanation of infinity, our origins, evolution, UFOs, science, God, love, sex, technology, DNA, free will, meditation, art, politics, money, paradise and not having to work for a living are all talked about in this book — their explanations appealed to me. It’s not just one specific thing, it’s everything that makes me feel this information is true.”

As of now, the Indian Raelians only meet four times a year (The first Sunday of April, 6 August, 7 October and 13 December) and there are a total of 27 members in the group. Like they say, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Even if you don’t believe in the whole ‘cult’, learning a new thing or two won’t hurt — what’ve you got to lose? Who knows. Maybe we’ll see you in October.

For more information about Raelism, please visit their website.

To download their book, click here.

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