The Muria of India
The Muria are a sub-group of the Gond, the largest tribal group in India. Historically, the Gond were the most important of the original Indian tribes. In the 1500's, several Gond dynasties were established, and the Gond rajas (kings) ruled like Hindu princes until they were conquered by Muslim armies in 1592. In the 1700's, the Gond were forced to flee into the hills. Some of the Muria were edged off their land or reduced to slavery.
Today, the Muria inhabit the forests and plains of central India. They live along the Indrawati River, which flows through the Bastar district of Madhya Pradesh. They consider themselves more civilized than their primitive relatives, the Maria. Even though they have retained their original Maria culture, they have improved and developed it. In recent years, some of the Muria have been exposed to external influences and have even leased their villages to outsiders. Hindu tribes such as the Halbi and Bhattri now have much influence in the scattered villages of the Muria region.
What Are Their Lives Like
The Muria, unlike the typically nomadic Gond, live in permanent villages. They survive mainly by farming, hunting, and eating the fruits of the forest. To supplement their incomes, most Muria men work for the Forest Department several months each year. This helps them to enter the cash or market sector of Muria economy. Some of the Muria also raise cattle to trade or sell at the market. The beef also provides the villagers with a source of protein. The Rawat, a group of non-tribal cowherders, live in almost every village. Their association with the cows ensures them a good social position in Muria society.
Local markets provide a place where the Muria can communicate with various ethnic groups, as well as buy, sell, and trade goods. Like many other Gond tribes, the Muria do not make their own clothes or jewelry but purchase them from neighboring groups. Very few ornaments are worn, and tattoos are more popular than jewelry. The Muria are generally very poor and live in bamboo, mud, and thatched roof houses. Each house is surrounded by a fence. Many outsiders have been impressed with their industry and cleanliness, saying that they are an attractive, charming people.
Muria villages are 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. Marriages generally take place between cousins, otherwise, marriage within the same family is discouraged.
The ghotul, or temporary dormitory for unmarried youth, is a significant building within the Muria villages. It contains no domestic furnishings and is basically a social club and sleeping place for the young and unmarried. The ghotul is considered a religious institution, a "holy place," and there is no such thing as sin within its walls. Without exception, there is complete sexual liberty until marriage. Teenage boys are divided into two groups, the first of which allows and encourages sexual relations with the unmarried girls. The other group is connected with war, hunting, and magic.
What Are Their Belief?
Sixty percent of the Muria 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 believe that these spirits use wild animals to warn the tribe about future events. The Muria regularly pray to the ancestral spirits for protection and blessings. They believe that a person will live two or three lives before coming back to live in the house as a god. For this reason, the ancestral spirits are included in all activities.
What Are Their Needs?
The Muria live in poverty, both physically and spiritually. They do not have any Christian resources available in their language, and no missions agencies are currently targeting them. Sadly, there are only a handful of known believers among them. Sustained intercession, evangelistic tools, and continued missions efforts are essential for seeing them reached with the Gospel.
- Pray that the few Muria believers will have opportunities to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
- Ask the Lord to send missionaries and humanitarian aid workers to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the Muria.
- Pray that the Jesus film and Christian broadcasts will soon be made available to the Muria.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Muria who will boldly declare the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Muria bound.
- Pray that Jesus will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Ask God to raise up intercessors who will faithfully stand in the gap for the Muria.
- Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Muria by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Muria
- Country: India
- Their language: Muria
- Largest religion:
- Christian: <1%
- Church members: 11
- 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: 3,200 (14.5%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 18,000 (85.5%)
- Country: India
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 8
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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