The Gowlan 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 nations, India has a population of more than 935,000,000. The overall population density is about 762 people per square mile.
India may be divided into four main regions: the Himalayas, the northern river-plains region, the Deccan, and the Eastern and Western Ghat Mountains. Because of numerous geographical features, climatic conditions vary on both a seasonal and regional basis, ranging from tropical to temperate extremes.
There are 18,700 Gowlan located mainly in Amravarti district of Maharashtra state. Their language, Gowlan, is a member of the Indo-Aryan language family. Some of the Gowlan live among the Korku (a tribal group), but little else is known about their specific lifestyle.
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 subsistence farmers barely growing enough to survive. Farms are extremely small in size and 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 Indian secular 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, but there are 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 Gowlan to accurately place them in the caste system; thus, their particular lifestyle and culture cannot be adequately described. Further research is needed to clearly identify their needs and to develop strategies for reaching them with the Gospel.
What Are Their Belief?
The Gowlan are predominantly ethnic religionists, following their ancient traditions and religions. Their religion is primarily animistic; that is, they believe that living things and inanimate objects have a soul or spirit. Many of the Gowlan are also involved in ancestor worship. They believe that the spirits of deceased ancestors are alive and need to be fed and tended. These spirits must be properly appeased, or else they will become hungry and dissatisfied and turn into evil spirits.
The influence of Hinduism is very strong among the Gowlan, and many of their religious practices have become mixed with Hindu beliefs. The majority, but not all, of Hindus 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. 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 gods, their incarnations, spouses, or offspring. A belief in reincarnation (continuous cycle of death and rebirth) is one of the few unifying features of Hinduism.
What Are Their Needs?
Like most other animistic peoples, the Gowlan live in fear and bondage to their many gods. Few have ever heard a clear presentation of the Gospel, and still fewer have made a decision for Christ. Christian resources in their own language are lacking, and no known missions agencies are working among them. Full-time missionaries, Bible translators, Christian media personnel, and fervent intercessors are all necessary if the Gowlan are to have a chance to come to Christ.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth missionaries to live and work among the Gowlan.
- Pray that the Bible and Christian media such as the Jesus film will be made available to the Gowlan.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Gowlan so they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Gowlan through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Gowlan who will openly proclaim that Jesus is Lord.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept Gowlan bound for many generations.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Gowlan by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Gowlan
- Country: India
- Their language: Gowlan
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 6%
- Church members: 1,210
- 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: 6,300 (34%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 12,300 (66%)
- Country: India
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 8
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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