Introduction / History Many Nepalese fled from Nepal when it became a nation-state in the 1950's. To escape the demands of the state and enhance their standard of living, they settled in various parts of northern India, as well as the neighboring countries of Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.
Although once part of the vast Indian Empire, Bangladesh separated in 1947 to become an independent nation. It is a poor country, and its citizens lead simple lives. Overpopulation is perhaps the most serious problem. The country's official language is Bengali, but the Nepalese population speaks Khas Kura, a form of Nepali.
Like other Hindus, the Nepalese belong to a "caste" structure which has only two categories: upper class landowners and lower class servants. Although they have always worked as farmers, the Nepalese have recently begun encouraging their children to leave the crowded rural areas for more secure jobs in the cities.
What are their lives like? Most of the Nepalese in Bangladesh are farmers. They live in small village settlements that are situated near rivers or springs. The villages consist of loosely grouped homes surrounded by farm land. Only the poorest families do not own land. Wet rice is grown during the monsoon season, whereas dry rice, maize, millet, and wheat are raised on the drier land during the summer and winter months. The Nepalese also cultivate vegetable gardens to feed their families. Most of the farmers raise buffalo and goats for meat and cows for milk.
Many of the Nepalese have now moved into the cities. Unfortunately, most of the urban population live in run-down houses with very poor sanitation and no modern conveniences. They usually work in local businesses, as merchants, or for the government.
Nepalese children are treated well. Breast-feeding may continue until a child is three years old. There are many rites of passage for children such as the first rice feeding and the first haircut. Also, girls go through puberty rites and boys go through initiations known as "sacred thread ceremonies." When they are about eight years old, the children begin doing domestic chores. Girls help care for the younger children, carry food for the animals, and haul water. The boys usually tend to the animals.
Typically, women do the bulk of the work in the field. They till the soil, plant, weed, and harvest the crops. They also dry, separate, and often husk the grain. The main responsibilities for men include plowing, fixing the terraces, and irrigating the crops. Sometimes they help the women with their work in the fields.
During religious festivals or village fairs, the Nepalese women wear brightly colored clothes, heavy silver nose-rings and earrings, and colorful head scarves.
What are their beliefs? Virtually all of the Nepalese in Bangladesh are Hindus, worshiping a variety of gods. They also believe in ghosts and demons that haunt the crossroads and rivers. They live in fear of spirits, ghosts, demons, and fairies, and regularly try to appease them with offerings.
It is said that the Hindus worship more than 300 million gods. Though other supernatural beings are also worshipped, the gods and goddesses are considered as the most powerful.
Hindus believe that while the deities appear in separate forms, these forms are part of one universal spirit called "Brahman." The most important deities are Brahma, the creator of the universe; Vishnu, its preserver; and Shiva, its destroyer. In Hindu thought, man is not a separate entity, but is actually a part of Brahman.
What are their needs? The Nepalese are held captive by the deception of their beliefs. Prayer is the key to reaching these precious people with the Gospel.