The Riang of India
The Riang are primarily located in the Deotamura ranges of eastern and central Tripura State, northeast India. Some tribes also live in the state of Assam, and many others have moved to the plains. The Riang are the second largest tribe in Tripura and are said to have been the first inhabitants there. They speak a Baric language that is also called Riang.
The Bodo, ancestors of the Riang, were once the most important Indo-Mongoloid people in all of eastern India. Even now, their Riang descendants have special legal privileges.
Originally, the rough, sturdy, and enduring Riang were employed by the Bodo rulers as cup bearers. Later, they earned a place in the royal army, where they were forced to pay high taxes. In the 1940's, the Riang revolted against feudal oppression, but were overpowered and left with only village councils to lead them. Today, the Riang are generally known as poor, careless, and not at all industrious.
What Are Their Lives Like?
In Tripura, 42% of the state services are reserved for "scheduled tribe" candidates (formerly known as "the untouchables"). Today, due to the official state policy of favoring indigenous tribes in matters of social justice and economic affairs, the Riang have preference in public services, education, land grants, and resettlement projects.
Most of the Riang are farmers. Formerly, they lived as semi-nomads and used the "slash and burn" method of farming. However, their traditional lifestyle began to change in 1976 when the government moved them to the plains and introduced them to settled cultivation. The adjustment has been difficult and many continue to use the "slash and burn" method. They raise cotton, maize, and sesame in the freshly cleared hilly land; and mustard, sugar cane, and tobacco in the plowed fields. Rice and various vegetables are grown in both areas.
Due to the dense jungle, hills, and poor communication, there are very few towns in their region. The fist one came into existence in 1961. The Riang live in small village settlements, preferably on hilltops. Their tiny, one-room houses are made of temporary materials—usually mud or bamboo—and are raised off the ground on bamboo posts. Their pigs, goats, and fowl live underneath the houses.
Riang society is patrilineal, which means that the line of descent is traced through the males. They only marry within their own tribe. Although polygamy is permitted, it is not common. Young people are free to choose their own marriage partners, although they must first receive permission from their parents. Promiscuity before marriage is freely tolerated among the Riang, but accidental pregnancies lead to immediate marriage. Married couples usually do not have their own homes until they have had several children.
Many of the tribal peoples are gifted in weaving and in crafting cane and bamboo items. Riang women are especially fond of wearing jewelry, which can be bought from Bengali craftsmen.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Riang practice ethnic religions, which include worshipping the gods of fire, water, and the forest. The villagers believe that they must appease these spirits in order to have bountiful harvests. They believe that they are surrounded by spirits that affect their welfare and health. They also believe that after death each man goes to the "underworld" and begins re-living his previous life.
What Are Their Needs?
Without a medical college in Tripura State, the state of health is understandably poor among the Riang. In addition, they have no access to pure drinking water. Life expectancy is short and the infant mortality rate is extremely high.
The Riang living in the plains have a greater exposure to technology than those in the more remote regions. However, they also have more exposure to other religions; they are surrounded by Hindus, Buddhists, and Lamaists. Christian laborers are needed to go and share the love of Jesus with them.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Riang.
- Pray that the Riang believers will have opportunities to share Christ with their own people.
- Pray that Christian broadcasts will soon be made available in their native language.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Riang towards 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.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Riang bound.
- Pray that God will raise up teams of intercessors who will stand in the gap for these precious people.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Riang by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Riang
- Country: India
- Their language: Riang (Kau Bru)
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 6%
- Church members: 7,000
- 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: 4
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 45,500 (39%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 71,200 (71%)
- Country: India
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 8
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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