The Gamale Kham of Nepal
The Gamale Kham, a sub-group of the Kham nationality, live in the hill area of western Nepal. Their language, also called Gamale Kham, is divided into five language groups. The people in the South are often unable to understand those living in the North.
Nepal is the home of numerous ethnic groups, many of which migrated there in order to escape adverse social and political conditions in other parts of Asia. Tourism has grown in importance in Nepal since the 1960's. Katmandu, Nepal's capital, attracts visitors with many picturesque temples, which are typical of Buddhist art and architecture. A growing number of hikers and mountain climbers are using Katmandu as a major base for expeditions to Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain peak. However, due to the rugged terrain, Nepal faces major transportation obstacles. More than 90% of the people in Nepal are farmers; however, the land is undeveloped and the country, as a whole, is extremely poor.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Traditionally, the Kham were known as semi-nomadic shepherds, selling wool to earn money. Today, however, many of them farm the land and raise cows, pigs, and chickens for survival. Unfortunately, almost half of the country's land is mountainous and therefore uncultivable. Only 18% is cultivated; and about one-third is forested.
Nepal's leading crops are sugarcane, rice, and maize, with some wheat, potatoes, and vegetables. Buckwheat is grown at higher altitudes. Land in the Nepal Valley and on hillside terraces is intensively cultivated and widely irrigated. In most of the Gamale Kham villages it is too cold to grow rice, so corn and potatoes are their principal crops.
Kham villages typically 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.
Houses are usually made of mud-brick with thatch 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 is 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 and husking corn.
Gamale Kham marriages are always arranged by the parents. A girl is often unaware that her parents have arranged a marriage for her. Many times the chosen male is allowed to come and kidnap the girl and rape her. After this experience of indignation, she must live with him as his wife.
Most Kham men wear skirts and rough cloth shirts. They also wear long pieces of material wrapped around their waists. The younger men wear wool caps and the older men wear turbans. The women wear ankle-length dresses with velvet tops. They also like to wear jewelry, especially large gold earrings.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Although 90% of the Kham claim to be Hindus, they actually practice an old form of Siberian shamanism. (This is the belief in an unseen world of gods, demons, and ancestral spirits.) They depend on shamans (witchdoctors or priests) to cure the sick by magic, communicate with the gods, and control events. The shamans believe that if they can learn to control the spirits, they are able to stop sickness and disease in the village. When a shaman dies, one of the boys in the village is chosen by the demon spirits to replace him. The boy begins to have terrible nightmares and hallucinations, and the demons force him to obey them.
What Are Their Needs?
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. Today, there are only two known Gamale Kham believers in Nepal.
- Pray against the spirits of Hinduism and ethnic religions that are keeping the Gamale Kham bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams to 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 two known Gamale Kham 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 translate the Bible into the Gamale 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 Gamale Kham by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Gamale Kham
- Country: Nepal
- Their language: Gamale Kham
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 2
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- 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: 800 (7%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 11,200 (93%)
- 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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