Prayer Profile
The Orisi of India

[IMAGE] Nearly 25 million Orisi inhabit the states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, and Assam, East India. They also live in parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar. Their homeland is made up of tropical grasslands and forests. Annual rainfall ranges from 40 inches in the southern areas to 80 inches in the northern regions. The land includes low swampy plains, the high Himalayan foothills, and many fertile plateaus.

Most of the Orisi are part of the Hindu "caste" (social class) system. They speak an Indo-Aryan language called Oriya. One tribe, the Bhuiya, also speaks Oriya. Their range of cultural development is from the primitive Hill Bhuiya to the Hindu-influenced landowning Bhuiya.

Hundreds of different animals live in eastern India, including elephants, Bengal tigers, and monkeys. Six wildlife sanctuaries in Orissa alone have helped to preserve their existence.

What are their lives like?
Most of the land inhabited by the Orisi is rural and the soil is very fertile. Consequently, most of the Orisi earn a living as farmers. Rice is the principal crop grown, just as it is in most of central and East India. Wheat, barley, and corn are also raised. The soil in the state of Orissa, however, is not as fertile because of poor cultivation methods and the untimely rains. It is therefore difficult for the Orisi farmers living in this area to produce enough crops.

The majority of the Orisi's industries are located in South Bihar and West Bengal. There, copper, coal, steel, and iron are manufactured. There are also many steel and fertilizer plants, along with sugar and paper mills in this region.

The Orisi place a strong emphasis on education. Presently, there are about a dozen universities located in their region. There are even programs in place to promote education for the tribes in the area. Unfortunately, girls are usually not educated past elementary school.

The typical village setting for the Orisi consists of bamboo huts situated in fertile river valleys. Small vegetable gardens and fruit trees are located in the backyards of most houses. In the flooded coastal areas, the houses are surrounded by rice fields. This allows the farmers to give the crops year-round attention.

The cultural history of the Orisi includes an excellence in art. They are famous for their unique folk paintings, sculptures, and architecture. Dances and music are also a part of their heritage, including dance drama and folk opera.

What are their beliefs?
The Orisi are almost entirely Hindu. They constantly struggle to win the favor of their deities, the "disease spirits," and the village gods. Gunias, which are magicians, practice witchcraft and sorcery in the villages. Extensive rituals and festivals are celebrated throughout the land, including the New Year's festival and the Fertility of the Earth festival.

The Orisi believe that sickness is placed on people by evil spirits and witches. They also sustain the belief that planets and stars in the zodiac are responsible for an individual's physical and mental condition, and that leprosy is a punishment for great sins. They look to herbal folk medicines, exorcisms, and the gunias for cures from these and other illnesses.

The Orisi believe that death is simply a passing from one life into the next. They believe that this cycle of death and rebirth will continue until the spirit merges with the person's "absolute soul." They believe that Yama, the god of justice, sends the soul to heaven or hell.

What are their needs?
The 25,000,000 Orisi are currently being targeted by 12 missions agencies. The Bible has been translated into their language and the Jesus film is also available. However, a satisfaction with Hinduism and a devotion to this religion has hindered a breakthrough into their lives.

Less than 1% of the Orisi have accepted Jesus as their Savior. These precious people need to know that He has the power to cure all of their diseases and cause them to prosper.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Orisi.
  • Pray that Jesus will begin revealing Himself to the Orisi through dreams and visions.
  • Pray that God will provide contacts, strategies, and wisdom for the missions agencies that are working among the Orisi.
  • Ask God to give the Orisi believers opportunities to share the love of Christ with their own people.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Orisi toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Orisi bound.
  • Pray that God will call teams of intercessors to faithfully stand in the gap for the Orisi.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up many strong churches among the Orisi by the year 2000.

See also:
The Orissi in Myanmar; The Orissi in Bangladesh.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Orisi
  • Country: India
  • Their language: Oriya (Yudhia)
  • Population: (1990) 22,458,200
    (1995) 24,705,100
    (2000) 26,983,000
  • Largest religion: Hindu 96%
    Muslim 2%
    Nonreligious 1%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 242,110
  • Scriptures in their own language: Bible
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 12
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 13,088,800 (53%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 1,477,400 (7%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 11,611,400 (46%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 11,616,300 (47%)
  • Country: India
  • Population: (1990) 850,638,100
    (1995) 935,744,300
    (2000) 1,022,021,300
  • Major peoples in size order: Hindi (High Hindi) 9.5%
    Telegu 7.8%
    Maratha 7.4%
    Bengali 6.4%
    Hindi (Bazaar, Popular) 5.5%
  • Major religions: Hindus 78.2%
    Muslims 12%
    Christians 4.3%
  • 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.

[Home] [Calendar] [Country List]