The Dorli of India
The Dorli are a sub-group of the Gond, the largest tribal group in India. Historically, the Gond were the most important group of original Indian tribes. In the 1500's, several Gond dynasties were established and their rajas, or kings, ruled like Hindu princes. The Gond were conquered by Muslim armies in 1592 and lost all of their leadership positions, but their tribes were not disturbed by the changes in administration. They always identified themselves as a separate tribe, not entering into the rigid Hindu caste (social class) system.
Today, the Dorli inhabit the plains of the two southernmost divisions of Konta and Bijapur in the Bastar district of Madhya Pradesh, central India. Some also live in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Their homelands vary from open plains in the east, with a narrow valley around the Sabari River, to forests and hills in the west and south. Their language, which is also called Dorli, has been significantly influenced by the neighboring Telugu tribe.
What are their lives like?
Most of the Dorli are settled farmers who, unlike the typical nomadic Gond, live in permanent villages. They cultivate a number of cereals, and individuals also have small vegetable gardens. The farmers do not grow enough to sustain their families for an entire year. Thus, they also depend on produce gathered from the forest. Some of the Dorli have left the dry, barren farm lands to find wage-paying jobs such as road builders; others raise cattle to trade and sell. Although most of the Dorli are Hindus, they do not hesitate to eat any kind of meat, whether it was sacrificed, killed by a tiger, or died a natural death.
The Dorli live in small, windowless huts made with mud walls and thatched roofs. A village consists of several homes that line a narrow open space. In this area, villagers commonly gather to chat, hold meetings, or perform certain rituals. They remain a relatively primitive tribe. Clothes are a new thing to them, and bows and arrows are the most common of all the hunting and defensive weapons. They do not make their own farm equipment but depend on nearby villages for supplies such as earthenware, iron tools, and carts. Likewise, they do not make their own clothes or jewelry but purchase such items in the weekly markets.
The Dorli are divided into four regional tribes. Each tribe is divided into five groups, or gattas, consisting of many clans (families claiming a common ancestor). Marriage within the same clan is prohibited, and marriage to anyone from the lower class Ero-ghatta is looked down upon. Most marriages are settled by negotiation and no bride-price is required. However, the groom's family is expected to host a feast for the entire village. Young married couples generally live near the groom's family. However, the youngest son usually continues to live with his parents even after his marriage.
What are their beliefs?
Although the Dorli are primarily Hindu, their beliefs vary from tribe to tribe. Many of their practices have been combined with animism (belief that non-human objects have spirits). They worship a variety of gods, goddesses, and spirits. The sun, moon, and stars are considered gods, and the spirits of departed ancestors are household deities. The Dorli believe that the spirits often live in the hills, jungles, and water, and that water spirits sometimes assume the shape of snakes. The most important gods are enshrined under trees and represented by flat stones. The villagers also worship a supreme creator god, Deur, whom they believe lives high above the sky. While they have no concept of his form, they believe that he may appear in dreams as a human.
Within the tribe, witchcraft is considered a wicked, abominable act. If someone is caught practicing black magic, he is completely ex-communicated from the group and sometimes even publicly beaten.
What are their needs?
The Dorli do not have any Christian resources available in their language, and there are very few known believers among them. Increased intercession, evangelistic tools, and strategic missions efforts are essential for seeing them reached with the Good News.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to minister God's love to the Dorli.
- Pray that the Jesus film and Christian broadcasts will soon be made available to the Dorli.
- Ask the Lord Jesus to begin revealing Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will place a hunger within the Dorli to have a personal relationship with the Creator.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Dorli who will boldly declare the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Dorli bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin faithfully interceding for the Dorli.
- Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Dorli by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Dorli
- Country: India
- Their language: Dorli
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 1%
- Church members: 401
- 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: 8,800 (22%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 31,300 (78%)
- 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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