The Adiwasi Girasia of India
With a culture over 4,000 years old and the world's largest population, India contains a multitude of closely related people groups. One such group, the Adiwasi Girasia, inhabits the Banaskantha and Sabarkantha districts of northern Gujarat State of western central India.
The Adiwasi Girasia are the descendants of the Rajput who married Bhil women. During the thirteenth century, many poor Rajput fled to the Vindhya and Aravalli hills where they mixed with the Bhil settlers. In time, the Adiwasi Girasia defeated the Bhil chiefs and their followers and settled near the foothills and in the forests. There they were given land for cultivation as a reward for protecting the people and the area.
The name "Girasia" refers to the Rajput and other landholders living in the Gujarat and Rajasthan regions. Their language, known as Adiwasi Girasia, is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Bhil subgroup.
What are their lives like?
Among the Adiwasi Girasia, the average land holding is small and therefore, the man of the household is able to do all of the work himself. Their strong sense of community often leads to an exchange of field labor among themselves. Maize is the staple food grown by all families. Many also depend on forest produce as a means of support. The people are generally vegetarians and are no longer addicted to alcohol like other Bhil tribes.
Up until 1923, many of the Adiwasi incurred debts with dishonest moneylenders who worked at the markets. Every week they would go there to purchase goods and waste their money on alcohol. Extreme poverty came as a result of their indebtedness. The yearly interest can cost them an entire yield of the season's crops.
In 1923, there were many reforms among the Adiwasi Girasia. Some vowed to stop drinking liquor. They began to grow cotton and spin it into yarn as a means of income. Even though many soon reverted back to their old ways, firm support from Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian government helped to bring about some lasting changes.
In the 1950's, the government gave the land to the tillers, and there were no longer any large scale land owners. Unfortunately, the small land-owning peasants still depend on annual grants of credit to meet their needs.
The Adiwasi Girasia live in one-room houses typically made with mud and bamboo walls. Those with more money build flat tiled roofs, while the poorer people still use thatch. Houses are usually built on the slopes of hills with their fields extending out in front.
In contrast to the Hindu belief that men are not equal, the Adiwasi have always had a strong sense of equality. Those who are prosperous treat the poor with respect and sympathy as their brothers. They also feel that an outward demonstration of wealth invites bad luck.
Both Adiwasi men and women love to dress with silver ornaments. The men usually wear red or white turbans and long-sleeved shirts. The women wear black or red blouses and big red petticoats. Both sexes are fond of tattoos.
Being people of the forest, the Adiwasi men always walk about armed. They traditionally wore bows and arrows; but today they often wear knives, swords, or guns.
What are their beliefs?
Sixty percent of the Adiwasi practice ethnic religions, and 30% are Hindus. The latter respect cows, worship the millions of Hindu gods, and also believe in many spirits. They all have a strong fear of ghosts, spirits of the dead, and black magic.
Their priests, or Bhopas, are called upon to cure sicknesses caused by supernatural forces and to make offerings to the gods and goddesses during religious festivals.
What are their needs?
There are virtually no evangelistic tools in place among the Adiwasi Girasia of India. Though one missions agency has targeted them, only a small number have converted to Christianity.
- Pray against the spirits of Hinduism and ethnic religions that have kept the Adiwasi Girasia bound for many generations.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Adiwasi Girasia
- Pray for God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask God to encourage and protect the small number of Adiwasi Girasia Christians.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Adiwasi Girasia language.
- 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 open the hearts of India's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Adiwasi Girasia by the year 2000.
See also the following Bhil Groups:
The Central Bhil;
The Chodhari Bhil;
The Dangs Bhil;
The Dhatki Bhil;
The Eastern Bhil Bhilbari;
The Pardhi Bhil;
The Pawari Bhil;
The Tadvi Bhil;
The Rajput Garasia;
The Meghwar Bhil;
The Sansi Bhil.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Adiwasi Girasia
- Country: India
- Their language: Adiwasi Garasia
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 1%
- Church members: 1,143
- 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: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 24,000 (21%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 90,300 (79%)
- Country: India
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 163
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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