The Kulu Pahari of India
The Kulu Pahari live primarily in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. The term "Pahari" can refer to any mountain dwelling people, but in North India it generally refers to the Indo-Europen speaking peoples of the Himalayas. The different Paharia groups can be distinguished by region, religion, and caste.
With a culture over 4,000 years old and the world's second largest population, India contains a multitude of closely related people groups. Over thousands of years, these countless groups have migrated into this subcontinent, and many have maintained distinctive cultures. Today, more than 800 languages are spoken in India, and the complex "caste" system has further divided the people into an endless number of social classes.
The Kulu caste system has only three categories: landowners, servants (those involved in a service occupation or art), and Brahmans (Hindu priests). One's "assignment" to a caste is determined by birth.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Most of the Kulu Pahari are farmers. They cultivate terraces on hillsides which produce only meager crops twice a year. Their principal crops are potatoes and rice, and a variety of other vegetables are also grown. Fertilizer is used, as well as a system of plot rotation in which the ground is allowed to lie fallow. 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. The villagers live on a simple diet of milk, lentils, a few vegetables, a little fruit, and occasionally meat.
The Kulu Pahari live in extended families in villages that consist of loosely grouped homes surrounded by the 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.
The houses are rectangular in shape with stone and mortar walls. The roofs are made of slate, wood, or thatch. Doors, windows, and door frames are often ornately carved and painted. The houses usually have two or more stories, with the people living on the second floor and the animals roaming freely on the ground floor.
Like most Hindus, the Kulu are required to marry within the same caste. 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.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Virtually all of the Kulu are Hindus; however, they are not as strict as Hindus in other communities. In fact, many of them are animists (believe that non-human objects have spirits). They believe in ghosts and demons that haunt the crossroads and rivers, and regularly try to appease them with offerings. The Brahmans (Hindu priests) perform important domestic rituals and teachings for the people.
The Kulu Valley is known as "the valley of the gods." The people there worship over 300 gods. Every October there is a religious festival in which all of the gold, silver, and brass idols are displayed for seven days. Various rituals are performed to appease the gods and ward off evil spirits. During these seven days, the people play instruments and dance in honor of their chief god, Raghunathji.
What Are Their Needs?
The Kulu Pahari are currently being targeted by one missions agency; however, only 91 Kulu have accepted Christ. More laborers, additional evangelistic tools, and a complete translation of the Bible are needed.
- Pray against the spirit of Hinduism that has kept the Kulu Pahari bound for many generations.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Kulu.
- Pray for God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask God to give the Kulu Christians boldness to share the Gospel with their own people.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to complete translation of the Bible into Kului.
- 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 Kulu Hindus through dreams, visions, and visitations.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among Kulu Pahari by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Kulu Pahari
- Country: India
- Their language: Kului
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 91
- Scriptures in their own language: Portions
- 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: 29,800 (13%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 198,500 (87%)
- Country: India
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 163
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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