The Usipi of India
India is a complex mosaic of ethnic, linguistic, religious, and social groupings. Because of this diversity, it is very 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 over 930,000,000.
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 very diverse on both a seasonal and regional basis, ranging from tropical to temperate extremes.
The 74,300 Usipi, who are part of this complex cultural environment, are located predominantly in the eastern states of Assam and Tripura. Their language, Usipi (also known as Kok Barok), is part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. The Usipi are commonly characterized as Garo, 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 agricultural activity. Many are farmers who barely grow enough to survive. Their farms are extremely small and are 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 that 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 Usipi to accurately describe their particular lifestyle and culture. Additional research is needed to clearly identify their needs and develop strategies to reach them with the Gospel.
What are their beliefs?
The Usipi are predominantly ethnic religionists, practicing a blend of animism and ancestor worship. Animists believe that nature is filled with spirits that must be manipulated through sacrifice and ritual to help the worshipper. Ancestor worship holds the belief that spirits of deceased ancestors are alive and must be fed and cared for. Depending on how they are treated, ancestral spirits can help or hurt their living descendants.
The influence of Hinduism, however, is very strong and many of their religious practices are "Hinduized", with many celebrations and religious festivals following the Hindu calendar. Most Hindus, though not all, 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. An almost universal belief in reincarnation (continuous cycle of death and rebirth) is one of the few unifying features. Contrary to popular belief in the West, Hinduism is not an ancient, static set of beliefs that are easily described; it is a body of customs, practices, and beliefs which go through major changes every few hundred years. 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 deities, their incarnations, spouses, or offspring.
What are their needs?
The Usipi have portions of the Bible available in their language, and there is a single missions agency currently targeting them. However, increased intercession and missions efforts are a necessity to effectively spread the Gospel among this people group. The small number of known believers need discipleship materials to strengthen them in their Christian walk.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities that have kept the Usipi bound for many generations.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to work among the Usipi.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agency that is targeting the Usipi.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Ask God to speed the completion of the Jesus film and other Christian materials into the Usipi language.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Usipi Christians.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to complete the work begun in the hearts of the Usipi believers.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Usipi by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Usipi
- Country: India
- Their language: Usipi
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 1%
- Church members: 740
- 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: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 20,100 (27%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 54,200 (73%)
- 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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