The Kumaoni of Nepal
The Kumaoni (or Kumauni) are one of many Hindu people groups living in India and Nepal. Their villages are scattered throughout the beautiful foothills of the central Himalayan Mountains. They are the descendants of the indigenous Dravidian peoples who married Aryan "barbarian" women. They are generally a light-skinned people with slender builds, brown hair, and long noses.
With Nepal being a poor and undeveloped country, its inhabitants are primarily dependent on agriculture for survival. Most of the Kumaoni are poor, honest farmers who work hard to cultivate terraces on hillsides. Although they produce only meager crops; they are able to grow almost all they need to survive.
The Kumaoni belong to a Hindu "caste system" that has basically only two categories: the upper class landowners and the lower class servants. Only the poorest Kumaoni do not own land.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Kumaoni are a hardworking people who engage primarily in agriculture and timber trade. The principal crops raised are potatoes and rice. A variety of other vegetables are also grown. Wet rice is grown during the monsoon season, whereas dry rice, maize, millet, and wheat are raised on the drier land during the summer and winter months. Most of the farmers raise buffalo and goats for meat and cows for milk.
Kumaoni 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 them 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.
Like most Hindus, the Kumaoni are required to marry within their own castes. Children, whether born to landowners or to servants, 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. Boys usually tend to the animals.
Kumaoni girls were traditionally married before they reached the age of ten. Now, they usually marry later, but still do not begin living with their husbands until they have matured. Horoscopes are used to decide whether or not two people should marry. Young, able-bodied men are always eager to join the Nepalese Army or some government service. In such cases the elderly, the women, and the children are left at home to tend the fields.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Nepal is a Hindu kingdom in which the king is worshipped as an incarnation of the Hindu god, Vishnu ("protector and preserver of worlds"). All of the Kumaoni are Hindus; however, their religious practices are mingled with animism (belief that non-human objects have spirits). They believe in ghosts and demons that haunt the crossroads and rivers. Offerings are made to these spirits in order to appease them.
What Are Their Needs?
The constitution of Nepal outlaws evangelization of any kind. Currently, there are only 35 known Kumaoni believers in Nepal. Much prayer is needed to break down the demonic forces that are keeping the Kumaoni bound.
- Pray against the spirit of Hinduism that has kept the Kumaoni bound for many generations.
- Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agency that is currently targeting the Kumaoni.
- Pray for God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask God to give the few Kumaoni Christians boldness to share the Gospel with their own people.
- Pray that the laws which currently restrict the preaching of the Gospel will be overturned.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the people toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that God will begin revealing Himself to the Kumaoni Hindus through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Kumaoni by the year 2000.
See also the following related group:
Kumaoni of India.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Kumaoni
- Country: Nepal
- Their language: Kumauni
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 35
- 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: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 16,700 (19%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 71,000 (81%)
- 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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