The Limbu of India
The majority of the Limbu live in the extreme eastern section of Nepal; however, a few of them live in the adjacent Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal. They live primarily in the area between the high Himalayan Mountains and the plains of northern India.
The Limbu are closely related to the neighboring Rai. Together, the two groups comprise the Kiranti, a large tribal group which lives in much of eastern Nepal. The Limbu are of Mongolian descent and speak a dialect of Kiranti called Limbu, which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman language family.
The Limbu are known and admired for their bravery, fearlessness, and strong work ethic. They enjoy drinking and dancing, and these two activities are practiced at nearly all important events, including weddings, funerals, gift exchanges, and conflict settlements. These events give the young people opportunities not only to enjoy the drinking and dancing, but also to meet one another.
What are their lives like?
The Limbu are almost exclusively farmers, growing rice, corn, and millet as staple crops. They often use a mixture of straw, leaves, and manure to fertilize their fields. Those who live at lower elevations often cultivate rice on terraces that are painstakingly carved out of the mountainside. The terraces are irrigated by diverting streams or springs and allowing them to flow down from one terrace to the next. In addition to their cultivated fields, nearly all the Limbu have gardens near their homes, where crops such as spinach, cabbage, potatoes, mangoes, and oranges are grown. In an effort to generate extra income for their families, many Limbu men join either the Nepalese or Indian army.
A poor Limbu family may live in a house made of mud or bamboo with a straw roof. In contrast, a wealthy family may inhabit a two-story stone structure with an iron-sheet roof. However, the most common type of home is more durable than the first type but less elaborate than the second. Most houses are poorly ventilated, poorly lighted, and have little furniture. At the front of the house, there is usually a verandah that faces a large courtyard. The courtyard is used as a place to carry out family chores and to spend leisure time.
In Limbu families, the wife plays a very active role. This is partially due to the fact that the husband often leaves to join the army to generate more income. During her husband's prolonged absences, the wife holds the family together and is the main decision-maker concerning household matters. When a young woman marries, she lives in constant fear of her mother-in-law. Many brides return home because they are unable get along with their mothers-in-law. Until the bride is accepted by her husband's mother, the marriage remains quite shaky.
Interestingly, the Limbu are hesitant to address each other by name. Calling out a name in public is taboo and creates embarrassment.
What are their beliefs?
Many Limbu follow a combination of Buddhism and their traditional beliefs. While they recognize and participate in many important Hindu festivals, they also hold animal sacrifices to appease their gods, a practice condemned by Hinduism. The Limbu do believe in a god who created the universe, but they worship him as a "force" or "energy" rather than as a personal being.
The Limbu believe that after a woman marries, she inherits her mother's gods, who are then recognized as the gods of the young woman's household. If her husband commits an offense or causes a problem, he is required to be washed clean of his deed in order to appease the household gods.
What are their needs?
There are no Christian resources available in the Limbu language, and there are no missions agencies currently targeting them. As a result, very few of the Limbu have become Christians. Nearly all of them continue to be bound to Buddhism, Hinduism, and their traditional ethnic religion. Christian intercessors are the key to breaking the power that Satan has over their lives.
- Ask the Lord to call Spirit-filled Christians who will share the Gospel with the Limbu of India.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Limbu.
- Ask the Lord to raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Limbu language.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Limbu through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Lord to strengthen, embolden, and protect the small number of Limbu believers.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Limbu bound.
- Ask God to raise up a mighty army of prayer warriors who will faithfully intercede for the Limbu.
- Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Limbu by the year 2000.
the Limbu of Nepal.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Limbu
- Country: India
- Their language: Limbu
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 39
- 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: 5,100 (14%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 33,700 (86%)
- 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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