The Assamese of Bangladesh
The Assamese primarily inhabit the state of Assam, which is located in northeastern
India. However, more than 9,000 Assamese can also be found in the north- and southeastern regions of
Bangladesh. They are thinly scattered throughout parts of the Sylhet District and the Chittagong Hill Tracts, where natural disasters such as flooding and cyclones are common occurrences.
The emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation came as the result of religious conflicts between India's Muslim and Hindu populations. In the 1930's, a growing Muslim population broke away from the predominantly Hindu population, eventually forming the country of Pakistan in 1947. The Muslims of Bengal were inspired to do the same, and soon joined the Sylhet District of Assam to form East Pakistan. However, they were harshly discriminated against by West Pakistan for the next 20 years. A civil war broke out between the two factions in 1971, and the end result was an independent Bangladesh.
What are their lives like?
Because Bangladesh is a delta land, the rivers provide much of the country's transportation. The region is mostly rural, and its rich soil provides abundant vegetation. The principal farming crops are rice and a fibrous Indian plant called jute. Wheat, beans, vegetables, tea, and some coffee, cocoa, and spices are also grown. Tea plantations are farmed in the Sylhet District and are very similar to the plantations in Assam. Contrary to the Muslim practice of not allowing women to work in public, the Assamese women usually do the field work.
In spite of the rich soil and abundant vegetation of Bangladesh, a very low standard of living plagues the people who live there. This small nation is one of the most densely populated countries of the world. Half of the population is under the age of 15, and much of their diet is below nutritional standards. Bangladesh is one of the least urbanized countries of the world because of its economic dependence on agriculture.
Assamese villages are similar to other villages throughout Bangladesh. They are located in jungles or forests, and are surrounded by groves of bamboo, mango, and coconut trees. Since the Sylhet District receives an average of 130 inches (3,300 mm) of rain each year, flooding is a common problem. For this reason, houses are built on higher ground. They are usually made of thatched bamboo, like the huts of the Assamese living in India.
What are their beliefs?
Although Bangladesh is predominantly Muslim and Islam was declared the state religion in 1988, 80% of the Assamese living there are Hindus. Hindus worship millions of gods, including the "creator god" and the "god of destruction." Animals as well as humans are believed to have souls. Cows are sacred, but animals such as snakes and monkeys are also revered.
Hindus believe among other things that horoscopes and astrology can determine a person's fate. They use these methods to choose the right mate, to select an occupation, and to calculate a person's time of death. Another important teaching is that the soul never dies. They believe that when the body dies the soul is reborn, or reincarnated, as either an animal or a human. Religious rituals are constantly practiced to ensure the next life will be better than the present one. Prayers are recited upon waking; baths are usually taken before meals; certain foods are only eaten on particular dishes; and different garments are worn while eating and sleeping.
Hindus are divided into social classes known as "castes." Generally, those belonging to the lower castes are poor, while those in the upper castes are educated and wealthy.
What are their needs?
The Assamese live in an overcrowded environment that is plagued with natural disasters. Proper health care, nutrition, and education are desperately needed; but most importantly, the Assamese need Jesus. Currently, there are three missions agencies working among the Assamese of Bangladesh. Both the Jesus film and the Bible are available in the Asami language. Despite all of this, there are still only ten known believers among them.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Assamese bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies targeting the Assamese.
- Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film as it is used among the Assamese.
- Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio in the Asami language.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will create a hunger in the hearts of the Assamese to know the one true God.
- Ask God to encourage, and protect the handful of Assamese believers.
- Pray that God will protect the Assamese from the destructive floods and cyclones that occur in the regions where they live.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Assamese by the year 2000.
See also the following Assamese Groups:
The Assamese of India;
The Assamese of Bhutan;
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Assamese
- Country: Bangladesh
- Their language: Asami
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 10
- Scriptures in their own language: Bible
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 3
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 4,500 (47%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 5,100 (53%)
- Country: Bangladesh
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 32
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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