Introduction / History
Udmurts are a people who speak the Udmurt language. Udmurt is part of the Urlic language. The word Udmurt means "meadow people." They are also referred to by Russians and Tartars as the Otyaskaya, Otyaks, Votyaks, and Ar. The people themselves are described as red-haired and light-eyed and are said to be decedents of the Finns.
Udmurts are mentioned in Arab history as early as 921. Udmurts settled around the valley of the Cheptsa River. The Udmurts became subject to the Mongols in 1237. Later in history, some Urdmurt groups mixed with the Tartars and together they led several rebellions against Russia. During Stalin's great purge many Urmurt intellectuals were murdered. In 1990 Urmurtia became a republic of Russia. Today, because of Russian migration, Udmurts consist of only 28% of the population. Two-thirds of the Udmurt population resides in the republic.
Where are they located?
Most Udmurts live in Udmurtia, a federal subject of Russia. The republic is located in the Eastern portion of the Eastern European Plain of Russia. It is between the Kama and Vyatka Rivers. The Udmurt capital is Izhevsk. They also live in other surrounding countries.
What are their lives like?
The Udmurt Republic has a president who is selected by the Russian President. The republic has its' own constitution and parliament, State Council, elected every five years. The republic is an industrialized republic with machine building, chemical, and oil and gas industries. In WWII it was the home to several defense industry productions and the AK-47 rifle came from this region. The capital is home to several museums and universities.
What are their beliefs?
Dorvyzhy is an Udmurt epic that is a mix of myth and history. It describes the god of the heavens, the earth god (Kyldysin), and the weather god (Kuaz). Village life and religion revolved around the seasons. Villages and later homes had a household sanctuary.
Muslims began to infiltrate the culture but for the most part the Udmurts held to their traditions. In the 14th and 15th centuries Christianity came to Udmurt. It began under forced conversions by Ivan the Terrible. From 1819-1823 the four gospels were translated into Udmurt.
As Russians began to come into Urmartia so did the Orthodox faith. Today around 30 percent of the population consider themselves pagan and 15-40 percent consider themselves Orthodox. Less than a quarter of one percent of the population is evangelical Christians.
What are their needs?
Udmurt society has a high level of alcoholism, depression, and suicide. Individuals and families need healing and the message of Christ.
* For the strongholds of paganism, alcohol abuse, and depression to be broken in individual lives, families, and in society as a whole.
* For Udmurt believers to be strengthened and bring the hope of Christ to their families and friends.
* For church leaders to be faithful to the Word and to shepherd their sheep well.
* For the Spirit of God to work in the hearts of the Udmurt.
* Pray for Gospel messages to become available in audio format for this people group.
Text source: Rachel Routt
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