The Dangs Bhil of India
The Dangs Bhil live in the rocky, hilly forests of western central India. They are primarily located in the Dangs district of Gujarat State. Dangi, their native language, is the language of trade in this region. Dangi is a sub-group of Khandesi, which belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family.
The Western Chalukya were the first people to establish political control throughout the region. Later, the Rashtrakuta gained control and brought the Dangs under submission to local chiefs, who were mostly Bhil. The forest wealth exploited by the Dangs enticed the Bhil, as well as the British, causing constant conflicts between the groups. Eventually, the Dangs were forced into slavery.
Later, the people who lived on the plains joined forces with the invading tribes. The Dangs, however, granted shelter to those who were ousted from their homes. For years the Dangs remained isolated, living in poor physical conditions. However, in 1947, plans were initiated to improve their circumstances.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Dangs were originally very poor, having few material possessions and survived by gathering food from the forests. They had no time for intellectual pursuits, but sought only to survive. They lived a hard, monotonous life in the mountainous forests, causing them to become individualistic and somewhat introverted. Nevertheless, their love of freedom has made them a people of sturdy character.
Today, the Dangs Bhil continue to live in extreme poverty, and their social lives are built around the search for food. They have always lived close to nature, depending on it for survival. Animals are respected and treated as equals. For this reason, they are often called the "children of nature." The Dangs district contains many protected forests that the Dangs are allowed to use for cultivation and residence. They live in one-room bamboo huts made with thatched roofps.
The family is the basic unit of social and religious life among the Dangs. Their society is patrilineal, meaning that the line of descent is through the males. Young newlyweds typically live near or with the husband's family. Social and religious order is maintained by an institution known as the panch.
Due to the warm, moist climate of the Dangs district, the people wear very little clothing. The women like to wear grass ornaments.
Despite their poverty, the Dangs enjoy singing and dancing. However, their animated tribal dances are no longer as significant as they once were. The villagers are skilled in creating objects out of stone, wood, and clay. Hindu artisans often help them with such crafts. Tattooing has also become an art among the Dangs.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Ninety percent of the Dangs practice ethnic religions, and all of them are involved in ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors). Their lives revolve around rites, rituals, beliefs, and superstitions. Many are animists, believing that all objects have spirits. Trees, animals, demons, serpents, and spirits are worshipped through magical rituals. Wagh-Dev, the tiger god, is their sacred animal god and their emblem of worship.
The Dangs believe in magic, witchcraft, and sorcery, along with their many tribal gods and Hindu deities. They believe that the supernatural world contains both good and evil. Their constant fear of the spirits keeps them revolving around a circle of prayers, rituals, offerings, and sacrifices. The Bhagat (priest and medicine man) is thought to be the ultimate "good man." He is believed to be a spiritual man who communicates with the gods. He is considered a friend, a philosopher, a guide, and a healer.
What Are Their Needs?
Two missions agencies are currently working among the Dangs; however, they have no Christian materials to help them effectively spread the Gospel. There is a great need for the Bible to be translated into Dangi. More missionaries and humanitarian aid workers are also needed to work among the Dangs.
- Pray against the demonic spirits that are keeping the Dangs Bhil blinded to the Truth.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray against the spirit of poverty that is over the Dangs Bhil.
- Pray that the Lord will send forth laborers to live among the Dangs tribes.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to them through dreams and visions.
- Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Dangs Bhil.
- Pray that God will raise up linguists to translate the Bible into Dangi and teachers to teach them reading.
- Ask God to give the Dangs believers boldness to share the Gospel with their own people.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Dangs Bhil by the year 2000.
See also the following Bhil Groups:
The Central Bhil;
The Chodhari Bhil;
The Dhatki Bhil;
The Eastern Bhil Bhilbari;
The Pardhi Bhil;
The Pawari Bhil;
The Tadvi Bhil;
The Rajput Garasia;
The Adiwasi Garasia;
The Meghwar Bhil;
The Sansi Bhil.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Dangs Bhil
- Country: India
- Their language: Dangi
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 1%
- Church members: 1,327
- 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: 2
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 34,500 (26%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 98,200 (74%)
- Country: India
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 163
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.