The Rajbansi of Nepal
The Rajbansi are one of about 110 different ethnic groups who live in the small, mountainous kingdom of Nepal. Their almost forgotten, rugged land lies sheltered at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains, sandwiched between India to the south and Tibet to the north. Most live in the eastern section of the Jhapa District, and in the adjoining Morang District.
The Rajbansi are a dark-skinned people of medium height who have been described as "tough." Their language is also called Rajbansi and is similar to that of the Bengali of West Bengal. Many are bilingual in Nepali, Nepal's official language.
The Rajbansi migrated to Nepal about 250 years ago and although their origins are unclear, they may be related to the Koche of India. One legend says they are the descendents of the children of a Bengali man and an Arakan woman. Other legends declare them to be an ancient people descended from the Dravidian race who lived in southern India.
What are their lives like?
Most Rajbansi are farmers who survive on the produce of their own labor. Although they raise some livestock, they do not seem to consider the animals as a primary source of income. Instead, animal products are used as items to sell to purchase necessities that they can't make or grow themselves. A shortage of suitable arable land, overpopulation, and poor farming methods all contribute to a subsistence level of food production. Some have begun to earn money by weaving (they are excellent weavers), working for the government, or finding employment in the private sector, but as a whole they live impoverished lives. They are hesitant to change their lifestyle and struggle in their adaption to different types of work.
Houses made of wood, bamboo, thatch, and mud are clustered in villages ranging from ten to one hundred buildings. As in all patriarchal societies, the father is the undisputed head of the household. Most homes are composed of a basic family unit (parents and their children) until the oldest son marries. He and his wife then live with his parents until the second son marries. When the family head dies, all authority and responsibilities are transferred to the eldest son. Most marriages are arranged and conducted according to traditional Hindu rites and rituals.
The Rajbansi dress very simply. Men wear knee length dhotis and langautis (loincloths) and women wear paetanis (pieces of cloth wrapped around their bodies that provide a covering down to their knees). Western style clothing is slowly becoming more common.
What are their beliefs?
The Rajbansi are Hindus who worship millions of gods and goddesses. Every village has a separate hut dedicated to the worship of the goddess Kali (the goddess personifying creation). Festivals are called Pawni. Though they celebrate the Hindu festivals of Dasai and Tihar, the Rajbansi do not observe them the same way Hindus do in India.
What are their needs?
Nepal's government is fiercely opposed to any form of evangelism and has implemented severe restrictions that result in harsh penalties for those who profess to be Christian. The tiny handful of Rajbansi believers struggle against overwhelming odds and many have been imprisoned for their beliefs. The Bible has not yet been translated into their language; the Jesus film is not available; and no Christian radio broadcasts are being aired in this region. There are currently no missions agencies working among this people.
With the minute number of Rajbansi believers; the suppression of churches and the lack of Bibles, Christian broadcasting, and missionaries in Nepal, the Rajbansi have little chance of hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their isolation also makes it difficult for outsiders to reach them. In addition, people such as the Rajbansi who practice pantheism (the worship of many gods) find it very difficult to lay aside such beliefs and put all of their faith into one God.
- Pray that God will strengthen and protect the small number of believers among the Rajbansi in Nepal.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Ask God to soften the hearts of Nepal's governmental leaders towards the Gospel.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into Rajbansi.
- Take authority over the principalities and powers that are keeping the Rajbansi bound in spiritual darkness.
- Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask God to create a hunger in the hearts of the Rajbansi and an openness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Rajbansi church for the glory of His name.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Rajbansi
- Country: Nepal
- Their language: Rajbansi
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 636
- 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: None
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 21,000 (16%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 106,300 (84%)
- Country: Nepal
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 27
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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