The Nahari 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 Ghats 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 18,700 Nahari are located mainly in the Raipur, Bilaspur, and Sambalpur districts of Madhya Pradesh, as well as in the state of Orissa. They speak an Indo-Aryan language. 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 agricultural activity. Many are farmers who barely grow enough to survive. Their farms are extremely small in size and often very fragmented. The raising of livestock, particularly horned cattle, buffalo, horses, and mules, is a central feature of the agricultural 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 secular 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, although there are some 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 Nahari to accurately place them in the caste system; thus, their particular lifestyle and culture cannot be adequately described. Additional research is needed to clearly identify these people so they can be reached with the Gospel message.
What are their beliefs?
The Nahari are 99.9% 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 that go through major changes every few hundred years.
The majority, though 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 (continual cycle of death and rebirth) is one of the few unifying features of Hinduism.
What are their needs?
The Nahari are a relatively small people group, and they do not have any Christian resources available to them. Neither the Bible nor the Jesus film has yet been translated into their language. There are no Christian broadcasts being aired in their native tongue. In addition, no missions agencies are currently working with them. Consequently, there are only two known believers among the Nahari. Fervent intercession must be made and pioneer missionary efforts begun if a strong Church is to be established among the Nahari.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into India who will share the Good News with the Nahari.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Nahari.
- Ask the Lord to raise up qualified linguists who will translate the Bible into the Nahari language.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Nahari through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will greatly multiply the efforts of the two known Nahari believers as they share Christ with their people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Nahari bound.
- Ask God to call intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Nahari.
- Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Nahari by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Nahari
- Country: India
- Their language: Nahari
- Largest religion:
- Christian: <1%
- Church members: 2
- 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: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 1,500 (8%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 17,200 (92%)
- Country: India
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 163
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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