The Bison Horn Maria 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.
In the midst of this complexity can be found the 9,300 Bison Horn Maria. They are located mainly in Garhichiroli District in the state of Maharashtra. Some also live in Madhya Pradesh. Many scholars believe that the Bison Horn Maria are part of a larger Indian tribal group known as the Gond. Others believe them to be an earlier indigenous tribe assimilated by the Gond. The designation "Bison Horn Maria" is derived from a distinctive headdress worn at marriage dances and adorned with the horns of now extinct wild bison.
What Are Their Lives Like
Bison Horn Maria villages consist of several hamlets surrounded by sturdy fences. Houses have three rooms, thatched roofs, and walls made of woven bamboo. At the side of each house is a shed for cattle and a pig sty. A house specifically for travelers is built near the home of the village headman.
The chief distinguishing feature of Bison Horn Maria men is their long pony-tail hairstyle. Each man carries a special comb attached to his loincloth, along with a tobacco box. Women wear only a white skirt, leaving the upper part of their bodies bare. Many different kinds of jewelry are used for adornment. The Bison Horn Maria are known for their love of landa, a rice beer. Landa is drunk at all festivals and special occasions. As a result, there is a high incidence of violence and murder among the tribesmen.
Historically, the Bison Horn Maria have been gatherers, living most of the year from jungle produce. However, they are beginning to respond to the Indian government's attempt to change their cultivating method from "slash and burn" to plow cultivation. As a result, more are becoming settled farmers. The forests in their area were once inhabited by large numbers of wild animals, but after decades of ritual hunting, they have become depleted.
What Are Their Belief?
The Bison Horn Maria practice a blend of Hindu and animistic beliefs (belief that non-human objects have spirits). They generally follow the basic Hindu customs and traditions. The majority, though not all, of Hindus believe in a supreme being. A belief in reincarnation (continuous cycle of death and rebirth) is one of the few unifying features. When a child is born, the villagers immediately examine the child's body, believing that it will bear similar marks to the body of the ancestor whose soul is being reincarnated.
Sorcery is a significant part of Bison Horn Maria spiritual life. Medicine men are powerful figures in the tribal villages. Bizarre and legendary stories are told of their spiritual and physical powers. Illness is very often attributed to occult forces that are being manipulated by some enemy. The fear of black magic, occult forces, or manipulation is a constant concern in village life.
The Bison Horn Maria worship a variety of gods. On the outskirts of every village is enshrined the god of the clan. Each clan-god is supposedly territorial and is related to other clan-gods. They are believed to protect the village and to help in the exposure of black magic within the village. The earth goddess, Danteshwari, is also worshipped as one who feeds and sustains the tribal people.
What Are Their Needs?
The Bison Horn Maria do not have any Christian resources available in their own language, and there are no known believers among them. However, one missions agency is currently targeting them. Sustained intercession, evangelistic tools, and continued missions efforts are essential if the Light of the Gospel is to penetrate this people group.
- Ask the Lord to send laborers into India who will share Christ with the Bison Horn Maria.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to give creative ideas for evangelism to the missions agency that is targeting the Bison Horn Maria.
- Pray that the Jesus film and Christian radio broadcasts will be made available to the Bison Horn Maria.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Bison Horn Maria through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Bison Horn Maria who will boldly declare the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual powers that are keeping the Bison Horn Maria bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
- Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Bison Horn Maria by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Bison Horn Maria
- Country: India
- Their language: dandami Maria
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 0%
- Church members: 0
- 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: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 1,300 (14%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 8,000 (86%)
- Country: India
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 8
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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