The Nepalese of India
Today, more than 800 languages are spoken in India, and the complex Hindu "caste" system has further divided the people into an endless number of social classes. The Nepalese speak Khaskura, a form of Nepali. They also belong to a "caste" structure which has only two categories: upper class landowners and lower class servants.
Many Nepalese fled from Nepal, their homeland, when it became a nation-state in the 1950's. To escape the demands of the state and enhance their standard of living, the Nepalese settled in various parts of northern India such as West Bengal, Assam, Sikkim, and the Darjeeling region.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Nepalese villages consist of loosely grouped homes surrounded by farm land. The villages are generally situated near rivers or springs, and the homes are connected by footpaths. Sometimes the paths meet together near a large tree that is used as a meeting place for the villagers as well as a resting place for travelers. There are also a number of larger towns where the important temples or monasteries are located.
Houses are usually made of mud-brick with thatch or tin roofs. The bottom parts of the houses are painted with red clay and the top halves are whitewashed.. The houses usually have two or more stories. The kitchen and living quarters are often located upstairs to keep it free of pollution by stray animals that might wander into the house. Most houses have porches and courtyards where people socialize and do chores such as weaving.
Nepalese children are treated well. Breast-feeding may continue until a child is two or three years old. There are many rites of passage for children such as the first rice feeding and the first haircut. Also, girls go through puberty rites and boys go through initiations known as "sacred thread ceremonies." When they are about eight years old, the children begin doing domestic chores. Girls help care for the younger children, haul water, and carry food for the animals, and boys usually tend to the animals.
There are also some Nepalese who live in the urban areas of India. Even though they are educated, they may only have low-paying jobs. Being foreigners, they are fortunate if they have jobs at all.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Hindus believe that while the deities appear in separate forms, these forms are part of one universal spirit called "Brahman." The most important ones are Brahma, the creator of the universe; Vishnu, its preserver; and Shiva, its destroyer. In Hindu thought, man is not a separate entity, but is actually a part of Brahman.
The Brahmans (Hindu priests) perform important domestic rituals and teachings for the people.
What Are Their Needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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