The Eastern Magar of Nepal
Nepal is a small nation located along the southern part of the Himalayas, between India and China. It is home to approximately 110 ethnic groups who speak many different languages and have a wide variety of religious beliefs.
The Magar are one of the oldest known tribes in Nepal; however, their origin is unclear. They are believed to be of Tibetan descent because their language and dances are similar to those within the Tibetan culture. Some of the Magar live in the plains where the Himalayan hills begin; others occupy the lower hills of the Mahabharat Lekh; a few inhabit the high altitude mountain areas.
There are two major groups of Magar: Eastern and Western, which are further divided into a number of clans. The Magar language, which is divided into four groups, gives the people a distinct tribal identity. This linguistic classification is important in understanding the Magar tribes.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Most Magar are craftsmen, although some who own their own land have become farmers. Others work as miners, blacksmiths, or basket weavers. They tend to be simple minded, hard-working, honest, self reliant, and self sufficient people. They are very jovial and love to sing and dance. They have several kinds of dances, as well as tribal games that they frequently play.
The Eastern Magar typically live in large, two-story stone houses with slate or thatch roofs. The homes are often constructed with large porches in front.
The Eastern Magar have a unique style of dress. Most often, they wear loin cloths and bhotos (shirts with sleeves), or shirts and coats. The women also wear loin cloths called dhotis. They often adorn themselves with fulis (flower-like ear ornaments) in the middle parts of their ears and necklaces made of glass beads and silver Indian coins. Some aspects of western style clothing are slowly becoming more common.
Magar marriages are arranged in a unique fashion. The groom's brother-in-law must go to the bride's family and offer a "bride price" of money and alcohol. If the proposal is accepted, further payments are then made. Marriages to maternal first cousins are the most common arrangements.
The most distinctive element in the Magar family kinship is the strong bond between maternal uncles and their nephews. They treat each other with mutual respect; for when the nephew is ready to marry, his bride will be chosen from among his uncle's daughters.
"Life cycle rituals" are a very important part of Magar society. A special birth ceremony is held eleven days after a child is born. The baby is named and then washed for the first time. One festival known as Jyestha Poornima is observed in May or June at the time of the full moon. During the ceremony, freshly harvested grains are offered to the gods.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Ninety percent of the Eastern Magar practice ethnic religions, while about 10% are practicing Hindus. Like other Magar groups, Hinduism has greatly influenced the Eastern Magar. Many now worship the three major Hindu gods: Brahma (creator of the universe), Vishnu (protector and preserver of the worlds), and Shiva (the destroyer), as well as a host of other deities.
What Are Their Needs?
Portions of the Bible have already been translated into the Eastern Magar language. However, the government of Nepal fiercely opposes any form of evangelism. Penalties against Christians sharing their faith have been harsh. Many believers have spent long periods of time in prison. Perhaps this explains why there are only 103 known Eastern Magar believers.
The people of Nepal have long been hidden away and forgotten by most of the world. Intercession is the key to breaking down the strongholds over these tribes and seeing them reached with the Light of the glorious Gospel.
- Pray that the Lord of the harvest will thrust forth laborers into Nepal.
- Ask God to give the few Eastern Magar believers opportunities to share the Gospel with their own people.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to complete the translation of the Bible into Magar.
- Ask the Lord to begin revealing Himself to the Magar through dreams and visions.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will open the hearts of Nepal's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Eastern Magar bound for many generations.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Eastern Magar by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Eastern Magar
- Country: Nepal
- Their language: Magar
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 103
- 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: 2
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 68,900 (20%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 275,200 (80%)
- Country: Nepal
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 27
© 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.