The Lalung of India
The Lalung live in the states of Assam and Meghalaya, northeastern India. They are divided into two main sub-divisions: those who live in the hills and those who live on the plains. The two have developed distinctions due to differences in terrain and ecology. The Lalung belong to a race known as the Bodo. Many of the hills dwellers are bilingual, speaking both Bodo and Lalung, while many of the plains dwellers speak only Bodo.
Many legends surround the history of the Lalung, making their origin rather uncertain. It is thought, however, that their ancestors immigrated from Tibet and followed the path of the Brahmaputra River south into the hills of Assam. Later, perhaps during the mid 1600's, they migrated to the plains.
Today, there is a growing desire among the younger Lalung to become more educated and employed in government jobs. Unfortunately, their poverty level has slowed down this process.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Lalung who live in the hilly areas still practice the "slash and burn" method of farming. However, those living on the plains have been influenced by wet rice cultivation methods, and rice has become their major crop. Sesame, mustard, ginger, and chilies are also grown. The Lalung economy suffers from the same drawbacks as other local tribes, such as land alienation, indebtedness, lack of modern techniques, and inadequate credit and marketing facilities.
Rice is the staple food of the Lalung, along with meat, fish, or eggs. Fowl and pork are considered delicacies and are raised by everyone. They enjoy drinking locally brewed rice-beer on a daily basis. The consumption of rice-beer is disappearing among the plains Lalung due to economic problems. Nevertheless, it is still an essential part of certain religious ceremonies. Today, the more educated Lalung encourage drinking tea rather than beer.
The Lalung villages on the plains are not exclusive areas; they are interspersed with many non-Lalung villages. Most Lalung villages can be accessed by well-built roads. Both the hills Lalung and the plains Lalung build their homes raised up on columns. Thatch is used for roofing, the walls are made of reeds and bamboo, and every home is built with a courtyard in front. Recently, some families in the plains have built their homes with sheet roofing.
The Lalung tribe is divided into exogamous clans. This means that they are allowed to marry people from other clans. Some of the Lalung tribes from the hills are matrilineal, tracing their line of descent through the mothers. The clans cooperate with one another as a community, whether constructing a house, harvesting rice, or worshipping. Every clan has its own place of community worship where there is an altar for the clan's god.
There is an important tradition in Lalung society in which the youth are trained in arts and crafts and musical lore. The training takes place in a dormitory called a samadi. The samadi also serves as a meeting place for the village council. Unfortunately, this tradition is disappearing among the plains dwellers.
Lalung women are expert weavers and weave most of the clothes worn by their families. Today, the younger plains dwellers dress much like the Assamese. However, the hill dwellers and the elderly plains dwellers still wear the traditional dress, which consists of a long, wrap around cloth (lengti) worn with a shirt. The elderly men also wear turbans.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Lalung follow the cult of "poly-demonism." Their supreme god is called pha which means "father." They are officially classified as Tantrayana Buddhists, but have been influenced by Hinduism as well.
What Are Their Needs?
At the present time there are only 66 known Lalung believers in India. There is a need for the scriptures and other Christian literature to be translated into Lalung. Additional laborers are also needed to join the missions agency that is currently working among this people group.
- Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agency that is currently targeting the Lalung.
- Pray that God will raise up additional long term workers to join the few who have already responded.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into Lalung.
- Ask God to speed the completion of the Jesus film and other evangelistic materials into Lalung.
- Ask God to begin using the 66 Lalung believers to share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Lalung bound.
- Ask the Lord to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Lalung church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Lalung
- Country: India
- Their language: Lalung
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 66
- 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: 2,300 (14%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 15,200 (86%)
- 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.