The Bundelkhandi of India
India is a complex mosaic of ethnic, linguistic, religious, and social groupings. Because of this diversity, it is extremely difficult to adequately describe any single people group. Ranking second only to China among the world's most populous countries, India has a population of more than 935,000,000. The overall population density is about 762 people per square mile.
India may be divided into four main regions: the Himalayas, the northern river-plains region, the Deccan Plateau, and the Eastern and Western Ghat Mountains. Because of its numerous geographical features, climatic conditions are also widely diversified on both a seasonal and regional basis, ranging from tropical to temperate extremes.
The 11.5 million Bundelkhandi are located mainly in Madhya Pradesh and in the Jalaun, Jhansi, Hamirpur, and Banda districts of Uttar Pradesh. They speak an Indo-Aryan language, but little is known about their specific lifestyle and culture.
What are their lives like?
About 73% of India's population lives in rural areas and is engaged in some form of agriculture. Many are farmers who barely grow enough to survive. Farms are extremely small and often very fragmented. The raising of livestock, particularly horned cattle, buffalo, horses, and mules, is a central feature of the economy. Because of Hindu influence, however, these animals are used almost exclusively as beasts of burden rather than sources of meat.
Indian culture is primarily Hindu-oriented. Many Hindu institutions, including the rigid caste (social class) system, have wide-ranging effects on Indian society. The word "caste" basically means breed, race, or kind. Indian society is divided into hierarchical castes which are usually endogamous (marriage only within the caste). Castes may be defined by occupation or by kinship and lineage, but there are exceptions. Nevertheless, caste is so fundamental to the social organization of India that it prevails in all parts, except some of the tribal populations. Not enough is known about the Bundelkhandi to accurately place them in the caste system; thus, their lifestyle cannot be adequately described.
Uttar Pradesh, where many Bundelkhandi live, is India's most populous state. It has a density of 1,224 people per square mile. In Uttar Pradesh are four of the seven holy cities of Hinduism: Haridwar, Mathura, Varanasi, and Ayodhya. Ayodhya is believed by many Hindus to be the birthplace of Rama, the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu ("preserver of the universe"). Muslims also regard the city as sacred because the Babri Mosque was built there in the early 1500's.
What are their beliefs?
The Bundelkhandi are 95% Hindu and follow the basic Hindu customs and traditions. The term "Hinduism" came into use about A.D.1200, but clearly identifying what Hindus believe is difficult. The religion has no founder, no prophet, and no instructional structure. It is a way of living much more than a theology; it is a philosophy more than a religion. Contrary to popular belief in the West, Hinduism is not an ancient, fixed set of beliefs. Rather, it is a body of customs, practices, and beliefs which go through major changes every few hundred years.
The majority, but not all, of Hindus believe in a supreme being. Some respect all life and eat only vegetables, while others will gladly eat meat from sacrifices in the temple. To some, their religion is highly personal; to others, it is impersonal. While most Hindus worship Brahman ("the creator"), Shiva ("the destroyer"), Vishnu ("the preserver"), and the goddess Shaktri, they also worship a pantheon of other minor gods, their incarnations, spouses, or offspring. A belief in reincarnation (continuous cycle of death and rebirth) is one of the few unifying features of Hinduism.
What are their needs?
The Bundelkhandi do have the Jesus film available in their own language, but they are still without a translation of the Bible. The few known Bundelkhandi believers need discipleship materials to encourage and strengthen them in their walk with the Lord. Intercession and missions efforts are needed to see these precious people reached with the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to work among the Bundelkhandi of India.
- Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Bundelkhandi, with many conversions resulting.
- Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio in their area.
- Pray that God will supernaturally reveal Himself to the Bundelkhandi through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will strengthen, embolden, and protect the Bundelkhandi believers.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Bundelkhandi 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 bring forth a triumphant Bundelkhandi church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Bundelkhandi
- Country: India
- Their language: Bundeli
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 57,765
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 4,794,500 (42%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 6,758,600 (58%)
- 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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