The Diaspora Hindi
A cluster of 11 diaspora Hindi groups living in 11 countries
The term "Hindi" does not adequately describe the ethnic and social complexity of these people, since it is merely a language distinction. In reality, the Hindi-speaking Indians are a collection of ethnic and social groups widely dispersed around Central Asia. They not only speak a common language, but also have a sense of "group identity" based on cultural and historical factors, including a Hindu-Muslim rivalry in religious traditions.
It is usually the higher castes and educated people who leave India and migrate to other countries. These people now hold a wide variety of occupations. While most have retained various aspects of the Hindi culture, they have also come under western influence in many areas.
What are their lives like?
The Hindi speakers are divided into a number of social groups. The Hindus, who constitute the largest group, are divided into four main social groups called "castes." These have a hierarchical order based on the principles of "purity and pollution." In order of rank, these hereditary groups are: Brahmans, the priests and scholars; Kshatriyas, the rulers and warriors; Vaisyas, the merchants and professionals; and Sudras, the laborers and servants. These four castes have many sub-castes, which are further divided into circles.
Castes are culture groups, based not only on occupations, but also on customs, manners, and habits. People within the innumerable sub-castes and circles of Hindu society are constantly trying to "climb the social ladder." They do this by adopting the way of life, customs, and even the language of a higher caste; however, they seldom intermarry.
Although the Brahmans are considered the great religious and literary caste, the education and learning which so long gave them power are now available to all races and classes of Hindus.
Hindi is the language of business, education, and journalism. In their new countries, the Hindi speakers have set up Indian spice shops, video stores, and small commercial businesses in every large city. Some who live in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Bangladesh are farmers. The poorest Hindi live in mud huts, while the most affluent live in cement buildings several stories high.
In their new locations, the Hindi speakers are becoming more and more westernized. Today, many drink wine and eat every kind of meat except beef. Also, Hindu women have the right to divorce and remarry. Some men still wear dhotis (simple white garments wrapped between the legs or worn loosely like a skirt); and the women sometimes wear saris (straight pieces of cloth draped around the body like a dress), especially on formal occasions. However, many now wear western clothes.
The Muslim Hindi-speaking women still follow the tradition of purdah, which is the covering of their entire bodies, especially their eyes, as a sense of seclusion. However, purdah is practiced to varying degrees depending on the extent of westernization and urbanization.
What are their beliefs?
Hinduism teaches that the soul never dies. When the body dies, the soul is reborn or "reincarnated." The soul may be reborn as an animal or as a human. They worship some gods in the form of animals. Cows are considered sacred, but other animals are also revered.
The law of "karma" states that every action influences how the soul will be born in the next reincarnation. If a person lives a good life, the soul will be born into a higher state. If a person leads an evil life, the soul will be born into a lower state.
What are their needs?
The Hindi of India.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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