The Tadvi Bhil of India
The Tadvi Bhil live in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Rajasthan States of West Central India. Many were uprooted in 1989 when construction of the huge Sardar Saravor Dam (the Narmada Project) began. Those who lived in Bharuch District villages scheduled to be submerged by the dam waters were resettled in rehabilitation cities in the Vadodara District of Gujarat. The dam, which is one-fifth completed, will flood 100,000 people out of their homes and create the largest irrigation canal in the world.
The Tadvi Bhil's Dhanka language belongs to the Bhil subgroup of the Indo-Aryan linguistic family. The name Tadvi literally means "one who taps the palm tree" and is used to refer to all forest tribes. They are believed to be descendants of Bhil women and Muslim men.
What are their lives like?
Most of the Tadvi Bhil who gave up their lands were forced to live in cramped, dirty shacks. However a few were sent to large shelters with medical facilities, a school in nearby villages, and electricity. Some villagers refused to move from their ancestral homes and would rather die than lose their land; some are willing to relocate but have nowhere to go. Others have been relocated but couldn't make a living in the new rehabilitation cities, so they returned to their homelands to continue living in fear of the dam's completion. Neither the promised plans for resettling the Tadvi Bhil, nor the required funding has been assured. Because of the uncertainty of their future, the Indian press calls them the "nowhere people."
Tadvi Bhil houses are typically bamboo and thatch with a hard dirt floor. They frequently invest their hard-earned savings in home improvements—especially to change thatch roofs to a roof of tile or iron sheets. Government reconstruction projects call for bigger and better houses with stone floors, more windows and open space, separate rooms for cooking and sleeping, separate cattle sheds, and better bathroom facilities.
The average household has about seven people. Young married couples move out when they can afford to build their own thatch and bamboo house. Although the Tadvi Bhil follow Bhil customs, the two groups do not intermarry. Tadvi Bhil are small in stature, the average Tadvi man is 5'3" tall. Many are smaller because of an inadequate diet that consists mainly of rice and homegrown vegetables. Milk is rare.
Farming is their main occupation, but even families who own small farms find it necessary to work for larger landlords. The land is arid and farmers must depend on rain to grow crops for their families and for sale. Cash crops include cotton, barley, and groundnuts. Gathering and selling forest products (such as gum or honey) and cutting wood are other means of earning a small additional income.
Family life revolves around crop seasons and religious/social events. Tadvi Bhil women have more freedom than Hindu women.
What are their beliefs?
Most Tadvi Bhil (98%) are Muslims. Their beliefs and customs are similar to most Muslims, but they also have a deep regard for other deities, especially the Hindu goddesses Hinglaj and Maladi. They are very fearful of death and believe in strong supernatural forces. With exposure to western medicine, they are acquiring more faith in doctors and less in black magic.
What are their needs?
The Tadvi Bhil desperately need prayer and additional long-term workers. Most of all, they need hope for a future as they face the prospect of their homeland being flooded and lost forever.
Although the Jesus film is available in the Dhanka language, few other Christian resources, including the Bible, have been translated into Dhanka. No Christian broadcasts are currently available to these people.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to live and work among the Tadvi Bhil of India.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Tadvi Bhil.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Dhanka language.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Tadvi Bhil towards Christians so they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Take authority over the principalities and powers that are keeping the Tadvi Bhil bound.
- Ask the Lord to raise up a triumphant Tadvi Bhil church for the glory of His name!
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 Rajput Garasia;
The Adiwasi Garasia;
The Meghwar Bhil;
The Sansi Bhil.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Tadvi Bhil
- Country: India
- Their language: Dhanka (Tadavi)
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 1.8%
- Church members: 303
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 4,700 (28%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 12,100 (72%)
- 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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