The South Central Gond of India
The South Central Gond inhabit the forests and hills of India in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, north of the Godavari River. They are primarily concentrated in the Chandrapur, Adilabad, and Garhichiroli districts. They speak a Central Dravidian language called Adilabad Gondi. Through the years, their language and culture have been strongly influenced by the Telugu and Maratha, their former rulers and present neighbors. Today, many of them speak either Telugu or Marathi, as well as their own language.
Historically, the Gond were the most important group of original Indian tribes. In the 1500's, several Gond dynasties were established and the Gond rajas, or kings, ruled like Hindu princes until they were conquered by Muslim armies in 1592. In the 1700's, the Gond lost all power to the Maratha kings, who forced them to flee into the hills. Today, their great poverty and lack of education leave them politically powerless.
What are their lives like?
Traditionally, the South Central Gond were semi-nomadic farmers, who used the "slash and burn" method of agriculture. After farming an area for two or three years they would abandon their houses, move to a different location, and make new land clearings. Recently, most of the farmers have been forced by the government to change their methods of farming in order to preserve the forests. As a result, there are now more permanent South Central Gond villages. Many of the farmers have prospered, acquiring a higher social standing due to their change to plow cultivation. Unfortunately, others have struggled with this change in culture.
Most of the South Central Gond survive by farming, hunting, and eating the fruits of the forests. However, some raise cattle to trade and sell. Others hold wage-earning jobs, such as road builders. The South Central Gond do not make their own clothes or jewelry but purchase them from neighboring groups. The local markets provide a place where they can trade their cattle, purchase clothing and other items, and communicate with various ethnic groups.
South Central Gond villages are intended to be communal, territorial units. The tribe is headed by a chief, and each village is led by a committee of elders. The chief serves as the judge of all tribal disputes, while the elders have legal authority over their villages.
Gond society is basically patriarchal (male-dominated) and patrilineal (line of descent is traced through the males). The tribe is divided into clans, each of which represents the descendants of a common male ancestor. The Gond are exogamous, which means that they do not marry within their own clans. Cross-cousin marriages are preferred, and polygamy (having multiple spouses) is not discouraged. A strong bond exists between all members of the tribe. Though individuals are personally free, they are bound to defend each other's freedom. Liberty, equality, and brotherhood are the main principles of the tribe.
What are their beliefs?
Sixty percent of the South Central Gond are Hindus, worshipping millions of gods and goddesses. The remaining 40% are animists (believe that non-human objects have spirits). They are convinced that the forest is the dwelling place of the gods and ancestral spirits. They regularly pray to the ancestral spirits for protection and blessings. They also call upon a spirit of rain/river water to bless them with good catches of fish and abundant crops. Cows, goats, and birds are sacrificed to the various nature spirits in order to gain their support.
The South Central Gond believe in a supreme god named Deur. They believe that he resides high above the sky and that he created everything. While they have no concept of his form, they believe that he may appear in dreams as a human.
What are their needs?
Six missions agencies are currently working among the South Central Gond. The Jesus film and portions of the Bible are also available in the Adilabad Gondi language. However, there are less than 350 known South Central Gond believers. Prayer is the key to seeing them reached with the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to send laborers into India to share Christ with the South Central Gond.
- Pray that present outreaches by missions agencies will increase in spite of opposition.
- Ask God to use the small number of South Central Gond believers to share Christ with their friends and families.
- Pray that Jesus will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the South Central Gond so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that God will save key Gond leaders who will boldly declare the Gospel to their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the South Central Gond bound.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the South Central Gond by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: South Central Gond
- Country: India
- Their language: Adilabad Gondi
- Largest religion:
- Christian: <1%
- Church members: 332
- Scriptures in their own language: Portions
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 6
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 179,700 (27%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 484,700 (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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