The Kham Magar of Nepal
Nepal is located along the southern part of the Himalayan Mountains between India and China. The Magar are one of the oldest known tribes of Nepal, but their origin remains unclear. They are believed to be of Tibetan descent because their language and dances are similar to those within the Tibetan culture.
There are two major groups of Magar: Eastern and Western, which are further divided into a number of sub-groups, or clans. The Magar language, which is divided into four major groups, gives the people a distinct tribal identity. This linguistic classification is important in understanding the Magar tribes.
The Kham Magar live farther west than other Magar peoples and have a legend about their origin. The story tells of four brothers who went hunting and got lost. While camping at a particular location, each brother took on a certain task. It is said that from these four tasks originated the four major Magar tribes.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Many Magar are craftsmen, while some who own their own land have become farmers. Others work as miners, blacksmiths, or basket weavers. They tend to be simple minded, hard-working, honest, self reliant, and self sufficient. They are a very jovial people who love to sing and dance. They have several kinds of dances, as well as tribal games that they frequently play.
The Kham Magar typically live in two-story stone houses with slate or thatch roofs. The dwellings are often large and are constructed with a large porch in front.
The Kham Magar have a unique style of dress. Most often, they wear loin cloths and bhotos (shirts with sleeves), or shirts and coats. The women also wear loin cloths called dhotis. They also wear fulis (flower-like ear ornaments) in the middle parts of their ears and necklaces made of glass beads and silver Indian coins. Some aspects of western style clothing are slowly becoming more common.
Magar marriages are arranged in a unique fashion. The groom's brother-in-law must go to the bride's family and offer a "bride price" of money and alcohol. If the proposal is accepted, further payments are then made. Marriages to maternal first cousins are the most common arrangements.
The most distinctive element in the Magar family kinship is the strong bond between maternal uncles and their nephews. They treat each other with mutual respect; for when the nephew is ready to marry, his bride will be chosen from among his uncle's daughters.
"Life cycle rituals" are a very important part of Magar society. A special birth ceremony is held eleven days after a child is born. The baby is named and then washed for the first time. One festival known as Jyestha Poornima is observed in May or June at the time of the full moon. During the ceremony, freshly harvested grains are offered to the gods.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Seventy percent of the Kham Magar practice ethnic religions. There are also a significant number of Buddhists. Only about 3% are Hindus; however, like other Magar groups, Hinduism has greatly influenced the animistic Kham. Many now worship the three major Hindu gods: Brahma (creator of the universe), Vishnu (protector and preserver of the worlds), and Shiva (the destroyer), as well as a host of other deities.
What Are Their Needs?
The New Testament has already been translated into Takale Kham, the Kham Magar language. However, the government of Nepal fiercely opposes any form of evangelism. Penalties against Christians sharing their faith have been harsh. Many believers have spent long periods of time in prison. Perhaps this explains why there are only 11 known Kham Magar believers. Intercession is the key to breaking down the strongholds over the Kham and seeing them reached with the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Pray against the demonic spirits that are keeping the Kham Magar bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray that the Lord of the harvest will thrust forth laborers into Nepal.
- Pray that the doors of Nepal will soon be open to missionaries.
- Ask God to encourage and protect the 11 known Kham Magar Christians.
- Pray that God will give them opportunities to share the Gospel with their own people.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to complete the translation of the Bible into the Takale Kham language.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will open the hearts of Nepal's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Kham Magar by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Kham Magar
- Country: Nepal
- Their language: Takale Kham
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 11
- Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 3,300 (18%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 14,700 (82%)
- Country: Nepal
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 27
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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